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Multitasking – Making the Impossible, Possible

multitaskMultitasking is something that everyone prides themselves on, but cognitive psychologist Art Markman seems to think otherwise. He says, “you are your own worst judge of how good a multitasker you are,” due to the same areas of the brain that monitor performance are the same areas that work with multitasking, making it nigh impossible to determine how well you are actually multitasking. Of course, multitasking is something that every good employee should learn how to do, as it can improve productivity significantly.

Quality or Quantity?
For Markman, it seems to be more a question about quality versus quantity. In his book Smart Thinking, he argues that it is technically impossible to multitask because the brain can’t focus on two different things at the same time. Instead, he coins the term “time-sharing”, which is essentially devoting less attention overall to one thing because your focus shifts too much to induce the same quality you would have gotten if you were only focusing on one thing at a time. This makes sense, but what about other tasks that don’t require too much attention, such as eating a meal or running? These kinds of activities must be taken into account when discussing whether multitasking is impossible or not.

But I Multitask All the Time!
Of course, this isn’t entirely true – there are all sorts of things that can be done all at the same time. You can walk and chew gum, drive and listen to music, and talk on the phone while cleaning your home. These three don’t even scrape the surface. Even the workforce demands multitasking, and sometimes it can be difficult to keep up. Before you know it, your calendar is full and you find yourself scrambling to get everything done within your time constraints.

Smartphones and Multitasking
When you hold a smartphone in your hand, you can feel the power surge through your body – the power to multitask. Mobile apps make it possible to do things otherwise impossible, such as editing your resume while exercising, attending a conference call while balancing your checkbook, and organizing your schedule while eating. The feeling of satisfaction can be immense, especially if you accomplish more than what you had originally set out to do. However, this doesn’t change the scientific data that it is extraordinarily difficult to focus on many things at once. Despite these facts, we need to incorporate these kinds of tasks into our daily lives just to get by.

Productivity Technology is a Thing?
TMS can assist you with ways to increase your productivity. There are a lot of great solutions out there that that can assist you in streamlining your operations management. This will let you accomplish much more in a shorter period of time. There are also mobile solutions that will let you escape your desk and explore a whole new wilderness with technologies such as cloud computing and mobile devices.

Bonus Tips
Once you have been equipped with productivity solutions, you can take advantage of these three tips from psychology professional Nadia Goodman to be as productive as you can be:

  • Work on related tasks together.
  • Keep your to-do list visible.
  • Use downtime to review new information.

If you want to multitask, it’s important to do it right. You aren’t being proactive with YouTube or Netflix in the background; eliminate distractions to decrease downtime and optimize switching between tasks without forgetting what you were working on.

Do you call yourself a great multitasker, or could you use a few tips on how to be one? Share your tactics in the comments, or contact TMS at 1 (626) 737-2960 and we’ll make the impossible, possible!