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Multitasking is Evil – The Number One Killer of Project Productivity

Overview

Is multitasking a good thing? Most think that multitasking is a good skill to have; chewing gum and walking, reading and breathing, texting and driving (but you don’t do that, do you?).

Even though we think multitasking is good, research shows just the opposite. Research shows that dividing attention across multiple activities is taxing on the brain and often comes at the expense of real productivity. As much as a 40% loss. And it can also increase stress for the people multitasking, making your employees frustrated and stressed while at work. To do tasks that are complicated, you are either going to have to slow down or you are going to start making mistakes, causing each task to take longer.

Watch the video below to learn more about the dangers of multitasking and what you can do to stop your resources (and you!) from multitasking.

Learn more about how to increase project velocity and improve resource productivity by reading some of our ebooks or watching more of our videos. In particular, look at our Blindsided! Five Invisible Project Threats Successful Managers Must See ebook, that includes very practical information you can use today that will improve your projects.

Do you want to learn the one thing you can do now to impact project velocity? Hi, I’m Mark Woeppel, president of Pinnacle Strategies. Keep listening and I will teach you the answer.

Is multitasking a good thing? Most think that multitasking is a good skill to have; chewing gum and walking, reading and breathing, texting and driving (but you don’t do that, do you?).

Even though we think multitasking is good, research shows just the opposite. Research shows that dividing attention across multiple activities is taxing on the brain and often comes at the expense of real productivity. As much as a 40% loss. And it can also increase stress for the people multitasking, making your employees frustrated and stressed while at work. To do tasks that are complicated, you are either going to have to slow down or you are going to start making mistakes, causing each task to take longer. That’s just the cognitive side of things.

On the work side of things, multi-tasking adds work to your project because of task switching. For any task, there is a certain amount of time to setup – to begin doing the real work. For example, to re-start a task, I have to review the work I’ve done, determine where I left off, then decide what to do next. The more complex the task, the longer this set up time takes. The more switching I do, the more additional work I must do, and the longer my project takes.
The more complex a task, the longer the set up time is, causing even longer delays.
Multitasking is the number one killer of productivity in projects – especially in knowledge-based projects, like software and product design.

When resources multitask, more work is added to the system, and the projects take too long and cost too much:
• Switching creates unplanned work in the system, and productivity is lost every time someone switches between tasks. Each task requires different tools and information, and as those tools and information is gathered, time is lost.
• When people multitask, they make mistakes. This creates more work to correct them. The number of mistakes correlates with the amount of multitasking. More unplanned work, more lost time.
Here are some ways to stop multitasking
• Don’t’ start a task unless you have all you need to finish it.
• Limit the amount of work in the system. A recent study found that a lot of people multitask because of high workloads, not because of impulsivity or boredom or other demands.
• Establish a single priority system clearly communicate task priorities. We find that shifting priorities creates most task switching, not because people like variety.

Do you want to increase productivity and project velocity? Stop your resources from multitasking!
I encourage you to learn more about how to increase project velocity by reading some of our ebooks or watching more of our videos. Particularly, our Blindsided! Five Invisible Project Threats Successful Managers Must See ebook includes some very practical ways you can improve your project performance. Improving projects is our business, so if you are looking to make enhancements to your project execution, let’s talk.

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