Project Management Techniques

Can you really multi-task?

We’ve all had days where it feels like no matter how hard we work, NOTHING gets done. At that point, we tell ourselves, “It’s time to multi-task.”

Although working on more than one thing at once may SOUND like a good idea, when we put multi-tasking into practice, we often get less done than we would have if we tackled one thing at a time. Why is this?

It turns out, there are psychological arguments AGAINST trying to multitask. And in fact, there are better organization systems to try instead. If you’re looking to boost productivity during a busy weekday, here’s why multitasking may not be the right choice for you.

What is multi-tasking?

“Multi-tasking” refers simply to working on more than one task at the same time. This could be as simple as writing a blog post while listening to music, or as complex as running a Zoom call, taking notes in a journal, responding to an email, and cleaning up the jam your kid spilled on the carpet all at the same time.

While the idea of “multi-tasking” sounds like a great way to maximize efficiency, it turns out that our brains can’t actually focus on more than one task at a time. As a result, we often end up wasting WAY more time working on tasks “all at once” instead of taking projects step by step.

If multi-tasking isn’t really a thing, then what am I doing when I’m “multi-tasking”?

It’s simple science. Our brains CAN’T focus on more than one thing simultaneously. Instead, when we “multi-task,” we’re actually just switching from task to task extremely quickly.

In the examples above, our brains switch focus between the music we’re listening to and the blog we’re writing, allowing one task to fade into the background while the other dominates our attention. Ever tried to work on a project with a really good song playing, only to find yourself staring into space while you have a full dance party in your head?

(We’ve all been there.)

This difficulty focusing is part of why multi-tasking never really works out. In the more complex example above, sure, you might be getting a tiny chunk of the work done on each of your projects (email-replying, note-taking, meeting-running, and baby de-jamming), but odds are none of those tasks will be completed the way you like things to be done, and you’ll end up feeling more stressed and anxious when all is said and done.

What should I do instead of multi-tasking?

It’s a good idea to implement a “no multi-tasking” rule in the office. (Within reason, of course. Don’t take away your Millennials’ earbuds unless you want to incite a riot.) There are good organization techniques you and your team can try instead of, y’know, doing everything at once.

For example:
– At meetings, implement a “no laptops” policy for important conversations. This will keep the team’s brains on-task and engaged.
– Set out “Do Not Disturb” hours for EVERYONE on your team. This is blocked-off time on the team calendars where everyone can buckle down and get things done. This means no water cooler chats, no quick emails, and no “Do you have a sec?” meetings.
– Ask your team for suggestions on boosting efficiency. No one knows your team like, well, your team! Host an open discussion to talk about everyone’s ideal work styles, and create a structure to try together as a group.

But doesn’t that mean I’ll get less done?

Nope! In fact, using these project management techniques is proven to maximize efficiency – without causing burnout.

If you or your employees need help finding the right form of project management, the team at Grand Technology Solutions is here to help. We can identify pain points in your technology and internal communications processes in order to speed up productivity, boost efficiency, and keep your workday running smoothly. Give us a call at (904) 606-6011 or email to learn more.

For IT success, call GTS!


Paul May