How many applications are open on your desk? No cheating – don’t close any.
I have ten open right now. Why? It seems like we feel the overwhelming need to be able to effortlessly switch tasks among applications or we’re not efficient. Admittedly, it does take some time to open a program, but why don’t we close them?
The truth is that we, as office managers, know that at any moment, while answering the phone and simultaneously entering payables, someone might walk in our office wanting a map, and we’ll need that browser ready for action.
Office Manager Tip: Multi-tasking is a necessity but the efficiency of it is an urban legend.
— Riggins Construction (@RigginsConst) June 15, 2011
And the truth is, that most of the people we support are also multi-tasking; this is especially true in construction where the project manager may be estimating three jobs while managing two ongoing projects.
According to “Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching,” people switch tasks about every three minutes. Also, only 82 percent of “interrupted work is resumed on the same day but… it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back” on task.
Furthermore, those who engage in task switching perform their work faster, in anticipation of being interrupted, causing them to feel and experience more stress.
We may not just be losing time, we may be losing brain function. From the article, “This is Your Brain on Social Media” by Diana Adams:
According to this Hewlett-Packard study, “Workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.”
According to “Infomania, Worse than Marijuana,” constantly task-switching causes “similar effects on the mind as losing a night’s sleep.”
Stress, wasted time, and sleep deprivation are all side effects of our constant task-switching all in the name of efficiency.
No matter the consequences, it’s doubtful that our society, dare I say “business culture,” is ready to give up multi-tasking. Technology has actually changed people’s expectations on when we’ll return an email, fax them an invoice, and return their calls.
The question becomes, how do you adapt and conquer the demands of multi-tasking while remaining as productive and sane as possible?
- Do you agree or disagree with the premise?
- What are your time management tips?
- Harvard Business Review | Four Destructive Myths Most Companies Still Live By
- American Psychological Association | Multitasking undermines our efficiency, study suggests
- Fast Company | Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching
- BitRebels | This is Your Brain on Social Media
- Wired | Multitasking Muddles Brains, Even When The Computers Is Off
- Inc | 7 Things Highly Productive People Do
- Harvard Business Review | The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time
- More Office Manager Tips