The Danger In Multitasking

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Peter Drucker noted, “It wasn’t until the twentieth-century that we pluralized the word priority. For most of its history, the word has been singular.” 

If we have too many priorities, we can frequently find them in conflict with each other. This forces us to make an extremely difficult decision: Which priority has a higher priority?! 

My friend Greg Heeres and I recently addressed this in an episode of our leadership podcast called The Craig And Greg Show.  

Ultimately, whatever business or industry or profession we are in, we are in the people business. All of our efforts fail without good investment in people. So our overriding priority must be on the people God has placed around us.

(I wrote post earlier about this called “Am I interruptible?” which is worth your time to check out.)

Marcus Buckingham noted, 

“The human brain is simply not designed to multitask. You can get by doing multiple things at once, but you can’t do them well. Your brain is physically unable to process more than one set of instructions at a time, so while you are juggling all of those actions at once, your brain is scrambling to keep up. Through a variety of experiments measuring brain activity, scientists have discovered that the constant switching back and forth from one activity to another energizes regions of the brain that specialize in visual processing and physical coordination, while simultaneously disrupting the brain regions related to memory and learning. According to the research, ‘We are using our mental energy to concentrate on concentrating at the expense of whatever it is that we’re supposed to be concentrating on.’ Got that? 

“More simply: when we multitask we’re dumber. How much dumber? A recent study for Hewlett Packard exploring the impact of multitasking on performance revealed that the average worker’s functioning IQ drops ten points when multitasking…. (The analogy the researchers used is that a ten-point drop in IQ is equivalent to missing one night of sleep.)”Marcus Buckingham  

The biggest victim of attempting to multitask is your relationships. Those closest to you suffer the most. If someone needs me and I’m too busy to give them me, then very busy has become too busy and it’s time for me to evaluate who—not what—is my highest priority.

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