Type ‘multitasking’ into any of the popular job search websites and you’ll probably be unsurprised to learn that it’s a highly valued skill for all manner of jobs (a moment’s research threw up positions as diverse as Dental Receptionist, Office Administrator, Cook, Operations Manager, Brand Executive and FEL Operator, to name but a few). FEL Operator? That’s a mechanical digger driver to you and me – do we really want someone operating one of these powerful machines attempting to focus on more than one task at a time?

What the studies say may surprise you

Multitasking – it’s ubiquitous. Absolutely everywhere. How many of you reading this have the word, or a variant of it, on your CV/resume? Go on, be honest – “excellent multitasker” you state proudly. But are you? Is anyone? Can anyone be? A whole raft of scientific studies suggests not!

  • University of London researchers noted reduced IQ scores – up to 15 points – from study participants who were multitasking; scores comparable to sleep-deprived people
  • Stanford University studies demonstrated that not only is multitasking less productive than performing a series of single tasks, it may cause damage to your brain
  • Other studies consistently show that our brains quite simply can’t fully concentrate on more than one task at any time. The cumulative time taken for the brain to adjust from one thing to another can amount to a significant decrease in efficiency

Multitasking is not synonymous with efficiency

So, what strategies are available to help those in a multitasking environment seeking to maximise their productivity, reduce the risk of errors and maintain satisfaction levels in their workplace?

  • Learn to prioritise, or ask for organisational priorities to be defined for you
  • Minimise the number of concurrent tasks at any given time, and try to align tasks such that each requires the same type of focus (e.g. visual, manual etc.)
  • Allocate timeslots (e.g. 2 hours on A, then 3 hours on B) and stick to them, and minimise exposure to interruptions (e.g. phone-calls, emails, walk-ups and the like)

Hit or myth

ECAC Management courses dispel the illusion of multitasking, helping you develop strategies to maintain focus, prioritise workload and accomplish more with your time. There can only be one priority one! Make contacting ECAC your number one educational priority and build the skills required to be a hit in a business world that largely still believes in the myth.