Distracted Working … It’s A Thing

Oh, hi! I didn’t see you there. I was on the phone with a co-worker, while completing my month-end invoicing tasks, reading my email, and texting my dog-sitter. Or, in other words, I was multitasking.

I always considered myself a good multitasker. I get things done. I’m productive. I’m efficient. Or, so I’d like to think. Recently, ILG created a distracted driving course for one of our clients. The course got me thinking … isn’t multitasking really just distracted working? Am I really as efficient and mindful when I’m doing multiple tasks at the same time? Maybe not!

There have been several studies dispelling the myths of multitasking: no, it’s not more efficient; no, it doesn’t save time; and no, you’re not more productive. If anything, the opposite is true. In the Psychology article, “Think you can multitask well? Think again.” by Nancy K. Napier Ph.D., she dispels the notion that there are “good” multitaskers with a little test everyone can take. It illustrates that you simply cannot multitask effectively.

Research has shown that there are high costs associated with multitasking, which makes me wonder:

  • What am I missing when I do too many things at once? How distracted am I, really?
  • Am I missing a sales opportunity or important client feedback because I wasn’t listening carefully?
  • Am I adding value to the tasks at hand when I multitask?
  • Am I being disrespectful to team members when my focus is elsewhere?

If I’m being honest, the answers have always been: a lot, yes, no, and yes.

So, what am I doing to change my behavior? I’m trying very hard to be mindful of my “distracted working” habits. I’m focusing on one task at a time and seeing if what I’ve been reading is true … you really are more productive when your focus and actions are directed on a single task.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on multitasking and how you did on Dr. Napier’s multitask test.

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