Time Out ………….Multitasking Our Way To Incompetence


One of the skills we evaluate in job interviews is the ability of candidates to multitask – the ability to execute more than one task at the same time. As leaders we have actually facilitated the development of teams in which pride is taken in their ability to multitask and by extension in their busyness.

In his Harvard Business Review Blog, Peter Bregman Strategic Advisor to CEOs and their leadership teams remarks that:

“Doing several things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we’re getting more done. In reality, our productivity goes down by as much as 40%. We don’t actually multitask. We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process. Research shows that heavy multitaskers are less competent at doing several things at once than light multitaskers. In other words, in contrast to almost everything else in your life, the more you multitask, the worse you are at it.” Bregman actually experimented for a week on avoiding the desire to multitask. He identified six key learnings.

 Ability to be much more deeply engaged
 Significant progress on challenging projects
 Reduced stress
 Intolerance with time wastage
 Patience with “useful” activities
 Nothing was lost

The above results are not dissimilar to what emerges after scheduled Time Out. Next time you think that you are too busy to take a Time Out, I encourage you to recall the impact of the busyness of multitasking – a 40% reduction in Productivity.

Time Out…….. the intentional cessation of an incomplete task

Judy Joseph Mc Sween is the Principal Consultant/CEO of Meredith Mc Sween International – facilitating internal transformation in individuals, teams and organisations. Contact Judy for information on her “Time Out Corporate Interventions” Email judy@meredithmcsween.com or call 684 9827

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