Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking: The Invisible Time Thief

Have you ever had a day where it was non-stop multi-tasking? Staff interrupting you while you’re trying to write up some charts, while handling supplier phone calls, while trying to read resumes to decide which one to hire, while checking your Blackberry or iPhone for emails and texts, all the while wondering why so many patients didn’t keep their appointments today?

This clearly is not a workable system, this multi-tasking business. I recently went on the internet to research if anyone had found out WHY multi-tasking is so inefficient and I got my questions answered.

In a nutshell, when you try to do two or more tasks at the same time, you appear to be doing them all simultaneously, but in actual fact you are doing only one at a time. The problem is that you don’t finish one task but rather, you leave it incomplete and then try and refocus onto the other task, which you then leave incomplete and then try and refocus on the first. This switching back and forth and losing focus wastes time and dramatically increases the number of errors and mistakes. Your concentration is continually broken as you go back and forth. Incidentally, this also causes increased stress. Besides being slowed down, your results become mediocre at best.

Here are examples of multi-tasking that are destructive:

  • interviewing a job applicant and checking your emails on your blackberry
  • driving your car and talking on your cell phone
  • writing emails while talking on the telephone
  • talking to a friend at a party while scanning the room for anyone else you know
  • having a meaningful, important talk with your spouse while watching a TV show

Here are some examples where it is fine to do two tasks at the same time because only one really requires your attention:

  • working out while listening to your favourite music
  • answering an email while you print off a letter you just typed
  • listening to the radio as you drive home.
  • eating dinner while watching a TV program.

Unless you are a computer (which is built to carry on several tasks at the same time), try doing one task or activity at a time until it is done and then take up the next one. You will find your efficiency will increase and your stress level will go down.

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