“Multi-tasking: screwing everything up simultaneously.” – Anonymous
Read something recently that explains everything. Especially for those of us who brag that we are “multi-taskers”. From the cofounders of Button Up, “a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized” come these words of surprising “time management truths”: multi-tasking “impairs intelligence and hurts efficiency.”
The “Button Up” girls, Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore wrote an article called the “Nine never changing laws of managing your time”. Number five dealt with multitasking. They said that researchers at the University of Michigan “have shown that multi-taskers actually take longer to finish work than those who did each task sequentially.”
What really piqued my interest though was their provocative statement that “top-tier institutions like UCLA have shown that switching between tasks impairs our ability to learn and even impairs our IQ more than smoking marijuana.”
Admittedly, some things by their very nature fall into the category of multi-tasking. Take cooking–it is multi-tasking at its most elevated level. Seriously–when you are fixing Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the fixings—if you follow the theory of the “Button Up” girls, and do everything sequentially, then you would have dinner ready by Christmas.
Modern technology also lends itself very neatly to multitasking. We can do laundry, run a load of dishes through, talk on the phone, all while making scrambled eggs. The only danger here is that you will run out of hot water, or start stirring the eggs with the phone, which could get a bit messy.
Apparently a study was done with high multi-taskers and low multi-taskers, and the former underperformed, had trouble filtering out distractions and in the end had a poorer memory.
As the holidays approach, we are getting into the ultimate multi-tasking time of year. Unless Santa’s elves come to our rescue, most of us are going to underperform, be distracted, and not remember things. But what is the alternative? Unfilled stockings? A one course Christmas dinner? No presents wrapped? So many times we are given a problem, and the solution may not be the best, but it is the only one. I don’t know about you, but I will not be giving up multi-tasking anytime soon.
So are you a high multi-tasker or low multi-tasker? Can you get everything done for the holidays without multi-tasking?