The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the following definition for multi-tasking:
The concurrent performance of several jobs by a computer
The performance of multiple tasks at one time.
Example of “multi-tasking” in a sentence:
The job requires someone who is good at multi-tasking.
Notice that the definition of multi-tasking mentions the performance of several jobs by a computer first. Technically, the computer is designed to perform several jobs at the same time but when too many jobs are being performed simultaneously, do you notice that this causes the computer to take longer to get everything done?
While I have specialized for several years in providing administrative support for businesses, entrepreneurs and specialized independent professionals, I have seen job postings that have the requirement, “must be able to multi-task.” What this means is that the person must be able to perform various tasks all at the same time. For example, they must be able to write a report, use a calculator and input data on a spreadsheet, check email and carry on a conversation on the phone all at the same time. Switching from one task to another and still maintain the full concentration required to complete tasks without errors is quite a feat and I have yet to see anyone do so many tasks all at the same time without making any mistakes. Why? Let’s take a look:
It takes more time to complete tasks when a person is constantly switching between several tasks than if a person does one at a time.
More mistakes are made when a person switches from one task to another.
Multi-tasking may not be effective for complex tasks that require high concentration, take more time and where errors are not acceptable.
Switching back and forth to work on a lot of tasks in one day can decrease a person’s productivity by 40%.
Mistakes are more likely to occur because of interrupted concentration from constantly switching from one task to another. Therefore, more time is required to go back and fix mistakes.
Trying to concentrate on too many tasks at one time not only decreases productivity but decreases efficiency.
In conclusion, it is better to focus on one task at a time. It takes less time to complete one task at a time without making mistakes, and increases efficiency and therefore increases productivity. No time is lost when tasks are completed one at a time error-free “the first time.”
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