“Multi-Tasking”. The meaning of the word – and our attitudes about it – has gone full circle.
Years ago, companies demanded employees who “must be able to Multi-Task.”
Then, an avalanche of studies blamed Multi-Tasking-tasking as a productivity killer.
A new study says companies whose employees Multi-Task perform better.
So: to Multi-Task, or not to Multi-Task?
If you like how you manage your work, and have achieved work / life balance, congratulations! Read no further.
If you wonder about Multi-Tasking, and want to work smarter – not harder – read on.
Yes, I read scientific studies. I also watch real people work in real-life situations every day. What follows are my opinions of Multi-Tasking.
If you want answers about Multi-Tasking, first ask yourself some questions:
How old are you?
Up to about age 30, people do better at Multi-Tasking. Later, shifts in the brain’s frontal lobe cause a decline in the ability to Multi-Task.
Where are you located on your career path?
Bright, young people who Multi-Task often look courageous and ambitious – even if they make mistakes. Many managers like that. But when you’ve been around a while, and you keep dropping the ball because of Multi-Tasking you are seen as “non-promotable.”
Do you feel like you are out of control?
Many people who Multi-Task are sucked into it against their will. They don’t know how to stop, and cannot control it.
Are you constantly reacting to crises?
Some people are distracted by any interruption – big or small. They cannot focus on one task. They react to any stimulus, whether it is a crisis or not.
Do you lack confidence in yourself?
Multi-Tasking can be a way of trying to please everybody, all the time, to get approval. It projects an image of someone who thinks their own work is unimportant.
Are you a rude person by nature? Does your company reward rudeness?
Even nice people can be unaware of the message they send by Multi-Tasking. Multi-Tasking is a great way to insult others. Think about it: when you answer the phone and say “I can’t talk now. I’m in a meeting with 10 people.” Congratulations! You’ve insulted eleven people at once! Of course, you or your company may like using insults as a business strategy. Or, you may simply be an arrogant bully. Which is it?
Do you have control issues?
Some people just cannot let go, cannot trust others, cannot delegate. Are they “control freaks?” Control freaks complain about having to do everything themselves – yet they will not ask for help, nor will they train others to help them. They want to control it all by doing it all, all the time.
What did your manager say in your last performance review?
If your manager said you are scattered, that the quality of your work is suffering, that you need to learn to focus, then you may be using “Multi-Tasking” poorly.
Next week, I’ll offer some opinions about how to control Multi-Tasking, and use it to your advantage.
Ann Searles: PEPWorldwide Canada/Caribbean
Johan Chr. Holst, PEPww Norway, Redaktør
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