Pay attention: multitasking is highly overrated

I used to have a young, upwardly-mobile coworker who took great pride in her “multitasking” abilities. She would type while she was talking on the phone, at the same time keeping an eye on her instant messaging and what was going on in the office around her. Whenever I talked to her I got the distinct impression she was not really hearing me (how could she be?) and everything she did was halfway, filled with errors and omissions. Let’s just say attention to detail was not her strong point.

I, on the other hand, take pride in my precision. It may take me a little longer to get a job done, but it is done really well when I do. This saves a lot of time in the long run because when a task is done right the first time, it can be put aside and not revisited. My young coworker was constantly having to go back and fix what she’d missed or messed up on.

Therefore, I was extremely gratified to see Mike Elgan’s recent article entitled Work Ethic 2.0: Attention Control. I hate to say I told you so, but – yeah… Mike says:

A person who works six hours a day but with total focus has an enormous advantage over a 12-hour-per-day workaholic who’s “multi-tasking” all day, answering every phone call, constantly checking Facebook and Twitter, and indulging every interruption. Read the rest here.

Try though we might, we can really only focus properly on one thing at a time. Doing too many things at once causes them all to suffer. If you give your undivided attention to the task at hand and get it done right the first time, it will save you a ton of time, frustration and embarrassment in the long run.

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2 Responses to Pay attention: multitasking is highly overrated

  1. Carol Roper says:

    Amen, girl. I’m with you… I need to focus to get my work done. I can cook something simple and wash dishes at the same time, but that’s about it. When I paint, or write, or shoot photographs, or restore documents, I have to give my full attention if I am going to produce quality work… and I NEED to produce quality work to stay sane. I don’t understand people like your young coworker who must do things over and over because she’s manically trying to do far too much far too fast.

  2. Pingback: It’s official: multitasking will muddle your brain | Dawn-Ann’s Explorations

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