There’s No Such Thing as Multitasking!

So why is it so frequently used in résumés?

You get a resume and the applicant states she is a champion multitasker. She can do the job of two people. Great candidate, right? WRONG!

Many people include in their resumes that they can multitask but in reality, it never happens. Our brains can move from one task to another, but never are two tasks being done simultaneously. A cashier may be able to swipe bar codes thoughtlessly while carrying on a conversation with the customer but that is not multitasking. If the item required a manual entry, the conversation would pause or the cashier would not hear what the customer is saying. That would be serial tasking.

When multitasking is believed to be happening, the tasks become ineffective and inefficient thereby actually going slower than if they were done separately. If the employee focuses on one thing, the results are better and more accurate.

While people can listen to music while working, if you ask them what the past song title was and they can’t answer, then they are paying attention to their tasks. If they can answer, check their production rate. Our brains are not wired for multi-tasking. According to The Myth of Multitasking, Dr. Nancy Napier in Psychology Today states, “Multitasking is switchtasking and it takes time.” Switching from one task to another loses time, not gains time. The brain must adjust to a different thought process and that takes away from the efficiencies.

This does not mean to suggest creating recurring processes that create boredom in assemblies. Rather think about the most efficient way to use repetitive processes to benefit the employees as well. Time the events to allow for different tasks at measured intervals.

No matter what the business is, there are ways to accommodate tasks using defined roles that allow the performance of multiple duties without the use of multitasking, but rather creating intervals of tasks to allow switching with minimal to no loss of productivity. Mapping and using a timeline helps create these intervals and improves efficiency, therefore bottom line.

Are you a multitasker? Let us know how you do it in the comments below.

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