MULTITASKING : Friend or foe

multitaskingMultitasking is a buzz word in today’s world and the general perception is that without the ability to manage a number of tasks or activities together you are not being productive. There is no doubt that most jobs require a number of activities which are taking place simultaneously, however in order to be really productive, we need to balance the various demands on us for our time and energy.

Not only that, in today’s competitive environment along with its constraints on resources, employees are generally required to juggle a number of tasks and jobs simultaneously. The level of job pressures has grown and employers or managers expect that employees are able to cope with multiple tasks, activities and priorities.

However the question arises – Is this the best way ? There are two schools of thought, one pro and the other against this.

Those who are in favour argue that we do not have the luxury of focusing on one task at a time in today’s busy work environment.  The changed work environment and the use of technology have contributed to the complications of multitasking. In most situations on the job, we are expected to concurrently deal with our routine work, answer emails, attend phone calls and also talk to colleagues who may contact us. At the same time multitasking involves the capability and the skill to manage different work activities simultaneously; ensuring at the same time that things are moving smoothly and there is no mess up.

On the other hand, the opponents of multitasking advocate that although it may be effective for a short period of time, in the long run multitasking contributes to unwarranted stress. Research shows that our short-term memories can only store between five and nine things at one time. Further, that we can deal with a number of routine manual tasks effectively together but our brains are just not ready for simultaneously multitasking activities or tasks that require concentration and brainpower. When we try to carry out two different and unrelated tasks and both may require a certain level of thought and attention the ability to multitask simply does not work.

We need to remember that our brain cannot comprehend and process two different streams of information and assimilate them completely into our short term memory. When information does not make it into our short-term memory, then it cannot be transferred into our long-term memory and be available for us to recall later. Of course if you can’t recall it you will not be in a position to utilize it. So what happens is that instead of actually helping you, multitasking is in fact working against you. It is making you less efficient, not more and may also have a direct impact on your total productivity. In addition to that, the greatest danger of multitasking is that the results of our work maybe compromised and not be up to mark.

What employees need to realize is that multitasking does not mean that you try to handle too much at the same time reaching a point of exhaustion. What one actually needs to do is to train ones brain to channel your thoughts and energy patterns in an effective manner, so that you are able to accomplish more in less time. That’s the goal isn’t it.


In order to multitask in an effective manner you must be able to rotate your level of concentration effortlessly and completely from one task to another one. You should also be able to recognize important tasks and prioritize and focus on the most crucial and important jobs first.

You need to be able to assess in which situations multitasking may not be a good idea. There may be some jobs or tasks which require your undivided attention and on which you need to work on exclusively. If that’s the case do so.

Multitasking is very much a part of our world today and we really cannot do without it. But if you want to handle it successfully, you need to learn how to multitask so it doesn’t overwhelm  you to the point that it causes unnecessary stress and impacts your health. By simply moving at an acceptable pace without being distracted, you can multitask in an effective manner and increase your level of productivity. The bottom line being – TO DO MORE WITH LESS STRESS


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