There is no cut-and-dried answer to the question: is multitasking good or bad? One quick response, nonetheless, is that specific situations and personal inclinations, as well as individual capabilities, would dictate if one can multitask effectively. Do you envy those people who can juggle several different work activities at the same time? Do you feel that their IQ must be that of Einstein?
But for the average person, there are certain work situations wherein there is no way to go but focus and concentrate on one particular endeavor until its satisfactory completion. Tackling such a project may be so complicated that it calls for breaking it up into several parts. In this case, one can apply this management tool called multitasking and use it to their advantage.
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Tools in a Multitask Situation
Certainly, work techniques are helpful and advantageous when multitasking. If the work components are interrelated, and with the help of tools in project management, the possibility of completing tasks through multitasking is enhanced. Specific timelines can be set, with some activities progressing at the same time. Targets are precisely defined, and project monitoring can easily be done.
One’s ability at work organization is, therefore, a key to determine whether multitasking is good or a bad for an individual. It is good and beneficial if one can effectively harness such techniques such as time management and priority-setting. These tools are the essential components of effective project management. These can be applied in the form of checklists and charts, wherein certain tasks that can be done simultaneously are accurately identified.
When Multitasking is Counterproductive
The pitfalls of multitasking, however, come when people try to do totally unrelated things at the same time. Doing online research while answering a client call or a manager’s inquiry, for instance, may seem to be a doable and efficient way to multitask. There are indications however, that such a work approach, made possible by the convergence of communication technologies, may be counterproductive.
In money terms, one 1interview with a business research analyst at Basex, who is also the Vice President of Information Overload Research Group, Johnathan B. Spira, showed that the American economy suffers $650 billion annually in terms of lost productivity due to excessive brain activity and information overload secondary to multitasking. Statistics of this study were based on interviews and surveys conducted to workers from 2004 to 2007. 2The psychological disadvantages have been emphasized as well. Gloria Mark, an expert on neurological disorders presented that people who try to do several things at the same time are often highly stressed, frustrated, and pressured with their workload.
Adverse Psychological Effects
Then comes some adverse physical effects that make it clearer on how to address the question, is multitasking good or bad? The stresses of multitasking, some scientists say, prompts the release of adrenaline and stress hormones. What may result is a vicious circle. With less productivity realized in multitaskers, there is a tendency to multitask even more, resulting in further undue stresses.
Children in the formative stage of their intellectual development are especially vulnerable to the ill-effects of multitasking. For example, some psychology experts have observed behaviors similar to autism in kids who, among other multitasking habits, try to do homework while watching TV. Specifically, what these children lose out on is the opportunity to focus on the development of interpersonal skills, which are crucial but slow to develop in the formative years.