Do you pride yourself in multitasking? Many do … are you one of them? For decades, multitasking was the mantra for those who wanted to get a lot done. It was believed to be the high achiever’s secret sauce. Something that had to be integrated into your DNA—no matter what.
The question is … should it?
As someone who is a “reformed” multitasker, my reveal is: yup, I got a lot done. But here’s the “but”—sometimes things weren’t as they should have been if I had taken a bit more time AND I was pooped.
Now, those who know me well, know that I sleep less than most—six hours is max for me. I can operate quite well on four and five-hour sleep days. And usually do. And, I’m an early morning person—four and five in the AM is quite common for me to start my day.
This past weekend, my husband said to me as I was working on a couple of chapters for a client on our deck,
“I see how you do this all—you completely tune things out. You are myopic. You get that something is out in the peripheral, trying to get your attention, but until you are done with the task you are working, you ignore it.”
Yup, he was right. That’s me. He was the peripheral that AM and was chewing over a column in the New York Times that he wanted to read to me. Right then.
I ignored him until I finished the chapter I was working on. Then, I gave him my attention, “Tell me what you wanted to say.”
It bugged him that I didn’t drop what I was doing—or at least acknowledge him, give him some kind of OK to continue to talk to me. I didn’t … I needed to complete my other task.
A few years ago, Psychology Today showed that “Multi-tasking is a myth. You are really task-switching, and it’s costing you time.” It added, “If you do a lot of switching in a day, it can add up to a loss of 40% of your productivity.” Holy Moly, that was in 2012. And it’s today as well.
The belief is: When you handle more than one task at a time you save time and you are more productive.
The truth is: Multitaskers can’t and don’t say NO … they are the old reliable of a team, even when the team only consists on one.