The MultiTasking Dilemma

The more things we have on our plate, the more likely it is that we try to multitask as a time management strategy.  We work while we eat, we eat while we drive and we have conversations via phone, email and IM all at the same time.

Doing two things at once seems like a great way to get things done faster, but I’ve learned there is some interesting research that proves otherwise.  This is particularly true when you are trying to do a “Meat” task in your Time Diet that requires a lot of thinking.

A 2005 study published by The Procedures of the National Academies of Science found that doing too many things at once can be detrimental.

When people multitask while doing something like reading, listening or studying, they store the information they learn in a different part of their brain than people who choose to only focus on one thing. Non-multitaskers store it in a part of the brain that easily recalls information later. Multitaskers store their information in a part of the brain that is more difficult to recall in different situations.

Basically, if you multitask on something difficult, you’re still going to get your work done, but you’ll have a more difficult time remembering it later.

How to MultiTask Effectively

So, what do we do? Sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day! We can’t finish everything if we don’t double things up.

Save the multitasking for your Vegetables. Remember, the Vegetable tasks in your Time Diet are the easier ones that don’t require as much intense thinking. If you simply must multitask, save it for the Vegetables that aren’t very difficult to do.
For example:

Folding laundry and talking on the phone- perfect combination!
Filing papers and skimming your email- great!
Reading a report and messaging with a friend….not the best idea.

Then next time you catch yourself trying to multitask with difficult and important things, remember: it’s better to find a few extra minutes to focus on one thing so you do the best job you can and don’t have to find time to re-do it later.

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