Multitasking is the act of doing multiple things at once. This method can be beneficial, but it can also be harmful if it is not done correctly.
Have you ever had several jobs whose deadlines were urgent so you had no choice but to do them all at once? Have you ever been in the position of not completing a job, but having to do something else that is just as important? If the answer is yes, then you already have a multitasking experience. Multitasking can be done using the help of ERP software. The software helps us to control and manage various fields of work with one system.
We will look at the definition and examples of multitasking, its benefits and drawbacks, and how to do it properly.
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What is the Meaning of Multitasking?
Madore and Wagner (2019) define multitasking as an attempt to do two or more tasks at the same time, which usually results in task switching or leaving one unfinished task to do another.
Multitasking has become a way of life. Everyone has probably done it at least once in their lives. Some examples of multitasking at school or work are taking notes while listening to a lecture, writing on the whiteboard while talking, or responding to an email during a meeting. There are also examples of multitasking that people do at home, such as reading a book while eating lunch, exercising while watching television, or cooking multiple meals at once.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Multitasking
Like two sides of a coin, everything has both positive and negative aspects. While multitasking can make work easier at times, it also has the potential to reduce overall productivity.
Here are the benefits and drawbacks of multitasking that you should know:
1. Advantages of Multitasking
Researchers Melwani and Kapadia (2020) have discovered that multitaskers tend to be more creative and generate more ideas. According to these researchers, that creativity boost is supported by high levels of cognitive resource activation and cognitive flexibility.
Multitasking saves time. As an illustration, you want to do content research for your professional website. At the same time, you also want to do your weekly workout routine. So, you decide to watch some inspirational YouTube videos for research purposes while walking on a treadmill. Working out and watching videos could take two hours if done separately, but multitasking cuts that time in half.
You can also save money by multitasking. It would be a waste to hire a worker solely to perform one specific task. For example, an individual who has good multitasking skills can greet visitors at the front desk while answering customer calls or make social media posts while working on email marketing, all at the same time. As a result, it will lower the recruitment cost. (You know what’s another way to reduce the recruitment cost? Going paperless with HRM Software!)
Furthermore, multitasking can improve one’s ability to function under pressure. People can learn to stay focused and do their jobs well, even amid a chaotic environment due to several things happening at once.
2. Disadvantages of Multitasking
When someone is multitasking, it’s easy to lose concentration. Being able to entirely focus on various things at once is hard. Suppose you’re working on a report and are interrupted by the sound of an email from a client. As a result, you get sidetracked and preoccupied with deciding how to respond to the email. It is also possible that you will forget important details or get discouraged from finishing the report.
Marty-Dugas et al. (2018) said that using a smartphone frequently may create more opportunities for attention to be divided, leading to more attention-related errors. It could also be the case that continuously using smartphones to multitask may erode one’s ability to sustain attention on a single task for extended periods. Work quality declines, goals aren’t met, and it would be a burden for the team.
In addition to affecting productivity, multitasking has health consequences. According to a study conducted at the University of London, participants who multitasked had a 15-point decline in IQ when performing cognitive tests. Researchers at the University of Sussex have found that those who multitask frequently have less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is crucial for empathy as well as emotional and cognitive control.
Multitasking can also be stressful. An individual may feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities which may lead to burnout.
How to Reduce the Negative Effects of Multitasking
Although it has bad repercussions, multitasking habit is ingrained in the home and work environment. It is impossible to stop multitasking because there are occasions when a person is required to do several activities at once. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of ideas to help you reduce the detrimental impacts of multitasking:
1. Limit your workload to two things at a time
Overworking might cause worry and stress. Your brain will also be required to work harder, which may lead to decreased productivity. Therefore, set realistic goals that won’t put too much of a strain on you. Two tasks may appear too little, but they will be quickly accomplished if done efficiently. You can then proceed to the next two tasks.
2. Create a to-do list with deadlines
To-do lists and deadlines can give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your confidence. Furthermore, you will not overlook important details. You can write a to-do list on paper and stick it on a place you see often, or create a to-do list using an application that has a reminder feature.
3. Create a priority scale
This helps you manage the time and energy required to complete the task. Use a prioritization matrix, which is a business analysis tool that, using specific criteria, allows individuals or teams to objectively compare options in order to determine which projects are urgent and critical, which bring the most value to the company, and which have the greatest chance of success. There are several types of prioritization matrices, including 2×2 matrix, also known as Eisenhower matrix, and Six Sigma matrix. The 2×2 matrix divides tasks into four quadrants: important-urgent, important-not urgent, not important-urgent, and not important-not urgent. The Six Sigma matrix is more complex and it compares at least two data sets using weighted criteria.
4. Create a schedule
Divide tasks each day according to your ability so you can focus and finish them quickly. Estimate the number of tasks that you can accomplish and the time it will take to complete them. Follow this process to prepare your schedule:
- Identify the time you have available
- Block in high-priority urgent tasks that can’t be delegated
- Block in appropriate contingency time to handle unpredictable events and interruptions
- Schedule the activities that address your priorities and personal goals in the time that remains
- Analyze your activities to identify tasks that can be delegated, outsourced or cut altogether
If you’re an employer, you can use the Timesheet Management Software from HashMicro to schedule your employees for specific tasks and monitor their work hours.
Related article: Time Management Tips to Level Up Your Productivity
5. Multitask at a steady pace and avoid distractions
Working in a hurry will yield less-than-ideal results. We recommend you to work quietly in a comfortable setting. If your job does not require the use of a cellphone, you can temporarily turn it off to avoid mental distractions. You can also politely tell your co-workers that you can’t be bothered and they can contact you when you’re done.
6. Take a break
Working hard is necessary, but so is rest. Give yourself a set amount of time to work (it can be 60 minutes, 90 minutes, or whatever suits you) and reward yourself with a break in between each scheduled cycle. If you begin to feel tired and unfocused, try stretching, lying down for a few minutes with your eyes closed, tidying your room, making coffee or tea, chatting with others, or walking around your workplace for a few minutes. However, keep an eye on the time and don’t forget to return to work.
Also read: 7 Tips to Increase Your Employee Productivity
Nowadays, people are no stranger to multitasking. While this method can save time and money, it can also be stressful and confusing. You should do it with a strategy to maintain the quality of your work.
Multitasking is a skill that project managers frequently use in the workplace. The managers are in charge of creating timeline, monitoring progress, and establishing budget plan. HashMicro’s Project Management Software provides a communication platform that makes it easier to distribute tasks, complete projects, and utilize available resources. You can multitask easily with the help of our software.