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  • Multitasking Hurts Productivity … and your Stakeholders

    During my recent webinar, Understand the Mind, I had the opportunity to live chat with participants. One of the more frequently asked questions that arose was “how do I prove this to my boss/spouse/team/sponsor/client/co-workers/etc.?” Other than reading a copy of Daniel J. Levitin’s The Organized Mind , or providing a copy to your team mates, there is a wealth of current and ongoing research.

    So that you don’t have to multitask, I have done some of the work for you. This blog will aim at you at multiple, credible references that provide impactful summaries. If nothing else, they will get your audience to consider the facts, and perhaps to assist you in modifying dialing work processes and schedules toward better productivity.

    Once again, sitting for a 90 minute focused session allowed me to outline, research, compose, review and submit this blog. The method works. You just need to be willing to create a work cycle that is contrary to the design imposed by our high technology society or environment. Control the machine before it controls us. Skynet isn’t here yet!

    In order to understand the fallacy of multitasking, start with one of the most recent presentations. Start current – a video by Dr. Sanjay Gupta that encapsulates the concept, without detailed background. The topic is current, and relevant. If you are attempting to help your clients, sponsors, team members understand the concept of focused work versus multitasking share the video. Share it with all your stakeholders. They might thank you for this one distraction.

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    Your brain on multi-tasking – A video my Sanjay Gupta, MD., April 2015

    This helps you to understand how the brain works when attempting to ‘multi-task’. Only 2% of the population are genetically super-taskers. Actually, multi-tasking tends to reduce quality performance by 30-40%.

    Or present the information with a historical approach. The information is NOT a fad. The medical, psychology, and business productivity sectors have been aware for nearly a decade at this point. Changing human perception, unfortunately takes time. Start with a medical journal article from 2008 and move yourself forward in time to Dr. Daniel Levitin’s summarization of current neurological understanding.

    Why Multitasking Isn’t Efficient, WedMD Magazine, August 2008.

    This is your Brain on Multi-Tasking in Psychology Today, Feb. 2012

    Don‘t Multitask: Your Brain Will Thank You, Time Magazine, April, 2013

    Multi-tasking damages your brain and career, Forbes Magazine, October 2014

    What MultiTasking Does to Your Brain, in Fast Company, October 2013

    Why the Modern World is bad for your brain, The Guardian, Neuroscience, Jan, 2015 contribution by Daniel J. Levitin. Provides a great introduction to how modern technology makes us less efficient.

    Okay, now you have some evidence for why multitasking doesn’t work. Let’s find some alternatives that suggest focused work and limiting distractions.

    16 Ways to Keep a Razor-Sharp Focus at Work in Zen Habits, May 2008.

    For a simplified approach that covers several points (without the clinical justification), check out WikiHow, Stay Focused. This ‘how to’ article expounds on a simple, medical answer from Dr. Amit Sood of the Mayo Clinic entitled Multitasking isn’t working for me. How can I focus my attention and improve my concentration?

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    Or go for Entrepreneur Magazine online, How to Stay Focused: Train Your Brain. This article will redirect you to several others:

    There. Now you have about 60-90 minutes of reading, review and refinement ahead of you. That should do the trick.

    Oh, by the way, forward this blog to all of your over-busy friends. Suggest they take a few minutes to understand how they too might become more productive project managers (or teammates, or family members).

    I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

    Steven Fullmer
    Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

    Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional CertificationWindows 7Windows 8.1 and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.


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