Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.
Strengths: Excellent multitasker.
This used to be a common line in resumes
I have written it, and I took real pride writing that.
And I can bet that you have also seen it on job descriptions (JDs)
Requirement: Have to be excellent at multitasking.
So, it does seem to be a necessary skill. An excellent one to have, right?
Of course, you might say.
So, you definitely need that 1 tip that I promised in the title. The 1 tip about multitasking that can make you super productive.
A pretty simple tip, yet very important and effective.
Yes. You read it right. Stop multitasking, and you will get more done.
Does it sound counterintuitive? Yes. But that’s what dozens of studies done in the last 5 years tell us.
Multitasking isn’t a skill anymore. It’s more of an affliction.
We are chronic multitaskers. Send that email while you are on the phone, shave while maggi is on the stove (I do that all the time, and then eat burnt maggi), or watch the latest episode of suits while eating (we all do that).
So, why do we multitask, if it is as inefficient as the studies say it is?
We do it because we feel a sense of fulfilment. We feel like “ Wow! I am great. I managed to write an article, check all the emails, answer a few calls, and read the news. Wow! I must be superman.”
But the reality is that with multitasking, we might be able to check off more tasks on the list, but it is greatly affecting the quality.
And, like the illuminati (For the Dan Brown fans), multitasking has infiltrated every bit of our lives that we have accepted it as the norm than the exception.
Take a look at a familiar situation: your partner is talking to you about something important and the phone rings with a text message. How many of us can really resist picking up the phone and checking the message? Not me. Not many. What happens after that is “Ghar ghar ki kahani” (The story of every household). 🙂
Or, count the number of tabs you have open right now on your browser. 8, 10, or even 20? We don’t have the patience to wait for a webpage to open, so in the few seconds that we wait, we open another page.
Constant multitasking is waging a war on our attention spans. Chronic multitaskers have trouble focusing on any task for more than a few minutes, and there is not a deadlier productivity killer than a lowered attention span.
Not convinced? Studies show that we lose about 40% of our productive time to multitasking. They call this the cost of switching (http://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask.aspx)
But all said, I am not actually qualified to write this, because I am myself a big offender. I am a big multitasker and I used to take pride in it. I make calls while driving, read articles while working, and even check emails while in the middle of a class.
But I have taken the first step. I am aware of the perils of multitasking and have started to fight it. So, I am not going to give you any solutions here yet. I will work on this for the next few months, and once successful, will report back to you on what worked and what didn’t.
Till then, you can look at a couple of articles that might help.
Also, hopefully, the companies will start listing unitasking instead of multitasking in the list of skills required, and consequently we will change our resumes too.