Multitasking - Can we stop it now?

Multitasking.  Every employer expects you to do it.

Moms are experts at it.

If you admit you can’t do it you may not get the job you interviewed for.

Multitasking has been a part of our culture for several decades now. 

But did you know that at the University of London researchers found people who use multiple devices had less brain density in the part of the brain responsible for empathy and cognitive and emotional control?

I recently read the editorial in the August/September issue of Douglas Magazine entitled “Your Brain in the Age of Distraction” and found myself yelling out a resounding YES!!!!!

I hate multitasking. I am one of those people who need to focus on the task at hand to ensure that I do not make an error, because, you know, everyone wants someone who pays attention to detail.  (Insert cheeky smile here.)  But that’s another blog.

 So I’ve never been good at multitasking.  At one job I recall the boss getting frustrated with me because I couldn’t handle two or three things at once.  As someone 17 years younger than me I guess she could and therefore felt that I should be able to as well.

It’s never made sense to me. What the heck is wrong with focusing on the task at hand, doing it well and getting a sense of accomplishment before moving onto the next one?  I’ve always felt like employers wanted staff to multitask so they could have fewer employees, get more productivity. But that’s just my opinion.  So when I read Kerry Slaven’s article in Douglas Magazine it really struck a chord with me.

How many people come to coaching because they are looking for more balance in their lives because they are juggling too many balls and they need help to decide what to focus on? How many people come to coaching simply asking for help getting focused!!!

The article, I felt, was timely.

Are you successful at multitasking? Or do you hate it when it is expected of you?

According to Slaven’s article, “numerous studies show multitasking causes the body to produce more cortisol, which leads to disjointed thinking and mental fogginess, and adrenaline, which prepares the body for fight or flight.”  No wonder I get stressed out when asked to do more than one thing at a time!!  I’m having a chemical meltdown inside!!!

If you’re one of those people who disagree with the concept of multitasking and want to change other’s opinions on the concept, consider spreading the article around.   Perhaps together we can change the perception of seeing multitasking as a desirable skill.  And maybe bring back that old belief that being single focused and doing a job well is something to be proud of.

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I'm with you on this one--One thing at a time please, if you want me to do a job well! Unfortunately, some employers will not see it our way.. As a dental assistant I had great respect for the dental receptionist in the small town office I came from--My office, at that time, did not have up-to-date technology. ONE receptionist was expected to handle all the the patients coming from 4 rooms, the dentist might be explaining something relative to his patient to the receptionist; assistants handing in charts and often needing to explain something on the chart or about the next appointment needed, two hygienists bringing their charts and explaining about their patients next apt; walk-in people, hanging over the desk, all the patients waiting to get their appointments and wanting information about billing and insurance information on their accounts (there are MANY insurance plans that all have different policies, and the patients expect the receptionist to know all the information on their specific plan..), there are courier deliveries, referral information that needs to be sent to specialists, as well as a couple of phone lines ringing...I guess if you stay calm and handle one person at a time, and try to get all your other work done in between you can do it, but I don't even like noise in the background if I'm on the phone, lol! I'm happy to say I've since moved to a larger community, and the dental office I go to here is a huge contrast to that--it is well staffed, and makes use of dental programs that make things run much more smoothly-- the dentists are women--maybe that's the difference, lol!

Hi Dianne, 

Hi Dianne, 

Thanks so much for taking the time to not only read but to post a comment!! 

Glad you saw the value in this topic and thanks for the great example. 

I really believe it's time to go out with the old and in with the new when it comes to how businesses treat their staff. 


Multitasking is required in some professions

Hello Linda, nice article. I'm of the belief that multitasking is a bit of a misnomer. By this, I mean that we can only do one thing a time, but jump from one to another constantly. I'd like to offer my own perspective on it, understanding that it is only from my own personal experience and that there is nothing scientific about it. As an air traffic controller, I'm in a constantly changing environment where i must continuously assess the information at hand, extrapolate the outcome of these assessments in the near future and choose the best course of action resulting in safe, orderly and expeditious flow of traffic. The flow of information is continuous and ever changing. Sometimes one tiny variable can alter my full plan and I must rebuild everything from scratch, and this while what I had previously planned keeps moving and keeps changing the situation in front of me. It's like recreating order in a bee hive during an attack by a swarm of hornets, while having very limited time resources to do it, Literally it is just a few tiny minutes of receiving information, assessing it, making a decision based on it and reacting to it., .

At this point is it efficient multitasking? Some could probably nod in agreement; I believe that it is an assessment of priorities and acting on what is the most important problem first, and working a solution around it. Again, this is just my perspective. Here is a good article, about multitasking in air industry:

Thanks for taking the time to

Thanks for taking the time to comment Sylvain!  I can see your point, there are certainly areas or work I had not thought of that require being able to keep your focus on more than one thing at a time. I am glad to know that there are people out there like you who ensure when my plane lands and takes off that I am safe and feel comfortable flying!! 

Thanks for your thoughts!


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