Real Life. Real Strategies. Real Quick.
Smart Solutions for Working Women.
June 30, 2010
Issue #12

Don't Even Think About Multi-Tasking These Activities

As we try to balance all of our responsibilities, we don't just feel the urge to multi-task, we believe it is NECESSARY.  Unfortunately, we aren't as good at multi-tasking as we might believe.  Significant research now strongly indicates that when we multi-task we are less efficient and deliver mediocre results at best.  Sure, we are perfectly competent at folding laundry while talking on the phone, but many other activities require our full attention in order to have the desired outcome.  Here are some tasks that are best not multi-tasked:

  1. Driving and using your phone for calls or texting
    This is one of the most dangerous things you can do. If you need convincing, watch this:

  2. Sending and reading email during phone conversations
    Do you really think we don't know that you're emailing while you're talking to us?  Even if we don't hear the "tap tap tap" of the keyboard, we certainly notice your hesitation as you stumble to respond to what we said.  Not giving someone your full attention is impolite and sends the message that they aren't worthy of your time.  In addition, combining these two activities may lead to the ultimate email faux pas: using the "Reply All" button accidentally.  Now that makes you think, doesn't it?

  3. Any CORE work activity with something else
    Whether writing a report or planning a budget, fully concentrating on your project will allow you to finish the task in less time and deliver a better result.  So turn off your phone, don't check email, and let others know that you shouldn't be interrupted.

  4. Texting and checking email messages while in a meeting
    Unless you're a cardiac surgeon waiting for word that a heart is ready for transplant, there probably aren't many compelling reasons why you need to use your BlackBerry during a meeting.  When you are distracted with your device, you miss important information and lose valuable opportunities to contribute.  If the meeting is truly that irrelevant to your work, have a conversation with your manager about whether you can skip it.

  5. Watching TV while having a family conversation
    It won't matter much if you miss a plot twist in your favorite TV show, but it will be significant if you fail to notice that your child is sharing something of real importance with you.  Use your judgment to decide if the TV gets turned off or if the discussion can be delayed for 30 minutes; just don't try to do both concurrently- your relationships deserve your full attention. 

Faun Zarge helps people find solutions for their work-life challenges.
She offers her practical, realistic strategies through a wide variety of highly interactive and engaging seminars.  Please feel free to contact Faun directly to discuss how she might help your organization.


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