Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Multi-Tasking Can Indeed Make You More Productive

Not too long ago, I mentioned on twitter how much I had accomplished in one day by multi-tasking.  You never know what statements will return comments to you on the various social networks, and when they do, it is typically surprising.  This was one of those surprises to me.  As I remember it, at least 3 other people began sending me links and comments showing how multi-tasking actually makes you less productive.

Here are a couple of examples:

There are very valid points in every argument posed in this area.  However, I do have to point out that studies like these are very subject to situational and contextual scrutiny.  For example, multi-tasking is an entirely different proposition if you compare a call center person to an IT person.  You can only accept and manage so many phone calls at a time, whereas the IT person has options.  This is what I am going to focus on for this post.

The typical Information Technology staff member has a specific set of duties, but they nearly always have a ton of room to squeeze in more things to do.  Even though computer performance has grown exponentially since the first PC was released, there are numerous times when an IT person has downtime.  For example, when installing an operating system, there’s not much to do except watch the status screen.  While it can be argued that this screen should be watched (not well enough for me), other things could easily be done at the same time.  For example, participating in a support forum, reviewing technical blogs, or answering e-mails.

What I am trying to say is this:

  • Only very specific people can be productive while multi-tasking:  These people tend to already think in a multi-tasking sort of way.  However, they must be a person who has a way of being organized in both thought and action.
  • A person needs to recognize when and what can be multi-tasked:  There’s no way around it.  Some things simply cannot be done in tandem with other tasks.  A true multi-tasker will and does recognize this and adjust themselves accordingly.

That’s my school of thought on multi-tasking.  What’s yours?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

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