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Is Multi-Tasking Hurting Your Projects?

Let’s accept it! We are all fascinated with “Multi-tasking”! Shamelessly and Extensively!

We take great pride in asserting ourselves as the ever successful multi-tasker (without numbers to back us!). It’s like there is an aura, a certain unexplained charm about the ability to multi-task.

And in sharp contrast (in my view), “Multi-tasking is mindless flip-flop across tasks or activities of the day. It is a self-deployed marketing gimmick for our lack of focus or rather very short attention timestamp to the tasks in hand.”

It is our inability to concentrate on what is really important and of priority than to be easily distracted by phone calls, water cooler discussions, social media beeps and twitter bytes.

Getting distracted easily directly impacts our focus and interest in the work we were doing. As we shift focus, we tend to then play around with our schedule, our to-do list and end up being less than productive.

The same is true in Project Management.

If you keep shifting between projects or tasks of the same project, your output (read quality and efficiency) is bound to dip.

It is scientifically proven – Human brain can never focus on more than one cognitive act at the same time.

Simply put, multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ as per a study by Institute of Psychiatry for Hewlett Packard in 2005.

For the love of Project Management – Stop Multi-Tasking! Click To Tweet

Let us take a quick look at the multitasking perils we must avoid to be productive at our jobs, efficient in our lives and profitable in our business.

1. Tasks are always “Thrusted” on you (resources)

Does anyone remember why is Toyota held in such high regard? Quality of course but how?

They implemented a pull system instead of a push on their assembly line. By implementing the pull strategy in your project and task execution you respect your team members’ right to manage their own work.  It always leads to a significant rise in their confidence and motivation.

The converse is also true. If you keep on pushing tasks on to your resources’ queue you end up overloading them leading to delays and lack of motivation.

2. Loss of precious billable hours

Have you ever asked yourselves – Why do I multi-task?

The answer is “to save time” – always! On the contrary, every time you shuffle between activities you lose precious time to refocus and recap to start from where you left. 15minutes is what it takes to refocus yourself on any given task.

On average, those individuals who use a computer for work (assuming near constant use) are distracted around once every 10.5 minutes. In an 8 hour work day, your average employee might lose up to 2.5 hours to distractions – that’s a lot!

3. Degrading product and service quality

As stated above, when tasks are thrusted on the team, they tend to work faster to keep pace with the delivery schedule.

And in order to not be seen as a ‘late guy’, they cut corners, ignore quality control measures and are highly prone to mistakes. Add to it the unwanted commotion and lack of collaboration as all are focused on individual delivery instead of the bigger picture.

Yet again, we successfully defeat the whole idea of delivering on time with quality and end up being inefficient and lousy.

Hence, it is imperative that we define reasonable deadlines so that we work at a reasonable pace which is in alignment with the overall project schedule. It helps keeping your clients and team happy.

4. Stressful workplace, stressful teams

When was the last time your team was excited to receive their next task? Exactly!

Consistent shuffling between project, tasks and roles adds to a lot of stress. You are required to shift gears at a pace which is not sustainable.

And what is not sustainable isn’t scalable! This is a huge deterrent to your business growth.

As executives, project leaders and managers you need to ensure minimum shuffling across projects. You achieve more with concerted focus on one task at a time rather than multiple inflight or half-baked deliveries.

It is known to be a tough task but is crucial for the greater good – happy, motivated and healthy workforce.

5. Loss of business and revenue

It is a no brainer that mindless wastage of time has a direct impact on the revenue. And more so when it’s an organization wide scenario. Just imagine the magnitude of the loss.

Demotivated teams, lack of collaboration, degrading product quality and delayed services run businesses aground.

No corporation of any size can ever beat it unless backed by robust project and operational strategy that

  • plugs any holes in the business processes ( false promises, unreasonable timelines at all times)
  • enables transparent work management
  • have the teams’ well-being at its core
  • ensures timely collaboration and communication across the board
  • rewards quality over quantity

It is almost certain now that we lose more than we gain by multi-tasking. We are always compelled to believe the opposite and get sucked in to the temptation all the time.

But its time to be vigilant towards our actions throughout the day and take control of our tasks. The idea is to be productive but not to be seen as being productive!

Your turn

So, stop being guilty of prophesying multi-tasking and falling short when it comes to productivity!!

It is now your turn to run your projects with a laser focus to reap the 4Ps – Performance, Productivity, Peace of Mind and Profit 🙂

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About the author

Priyank Agarwal
Priyank Agarwal

Customer Success & Product Manager, Orangescrum

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