A common belief is that efficient and effective workers are great “multi-taskers” – able to juggle multiple tasks at the same time. Many people believe that the most effective leaders are the greatest of multi-taskers. If you think about it, everyone must multi-task in order to accomplish anything in these times. If nothing else, technology has made multi-tasking a requirement. Of course there is also the increasing demand from our co-workers, bosses and customers to do more with less and to do it yesterday. These demands also make multi-tasking necessary.
However, a recent study by Stanford University researchers indicates that multi-tasking actually makes us less efficient.
I found the results of the study very interesting and informative. At first, I wanted to dismiss the results. After all, I am an effective multi-tasker, I thought. I can do many things at the same time and do them all very well. (That was pride talking).
After giving it more thought, I realized the most effective workers and leaders I know aren’t muli-taskers in the most common sense of the term. Yes, they are able to handle having many active tasks at one time. However, they are the best time managers and prioritizers I know. They aren’t actually working on multiple tasks at one time. In fact, the most effective workers and leaders I know don’t even check email and texts while in meetings and while working on other tasks.
Maybe there really is something to this study. Try to go through the next day prioritizing your tasks and managing your time in a way that keeps you focused on completing one task at a time. See how much more effective you are.