Online Newsletter for Call Center Personnel
Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D. Editor and Publisher
Volume V, Issue 11

Date: November 1, 2004 - Do You Multitask? Part II

A study of 1,003 employees by the New York Families and Work Institute says that 45 percent of U.S. workers feel they are asked or expected to work on too many tasks at once. Is this true for you?

The Institute for the Future finds that employees of Fortune 1,000 companies send and receive 178 messages a day and are interrupted an average of at least three times an hour. Are heads shaking in agreement?

It doesn't mean we can't do several things at the same time, but we're kidding ourselves if we think we can do so without a cost.Our brains allow us to appear as though we can comfortably multitask.

We do have an excellent filtering mechanism to switch our attention rapidly from one thought to the next. At the same time, rather than lose unattended thoughts, this mechanism keeps them active in the recesses of the brain.

However, the more we juggle, the less efficient we become at performing any one task. And the longer we go before returning to an interrupted task, the harder it is to remember just where we left off. Multitasking diminishes our productivity and makes us work harder just to feel like we are barely keeping up.

Recently, the public debate over multi-tasking focused largely on cell phones and driving. On July 1, 2004, New Jersey became the second state - behind New York - to ban drivers from using a cell phone without a headset. Washington, D.C., has adopted a similar ban.

No one solution works for everyone. Try them all, and then choose those that work best for you:

Better estimate the time it takes to complete a task. For instance, list the tasks you plan to complete during a four-hour period and write down how long you think each task will take. Then, time yourself. Find the percentage by which you underestimate, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Write things down--offload what's on your mind onto paper. Keep a pad of paper and pen by your bedside and write those thoughts that either keep you up, or wake you up, in the middle of the night. I get my best ideas in the middle of the night and write them down so I can get back to sleep peacefully. The only caveat here is have big paper. I tend to write my thoughts one atop the other in the dark!

Allow yourself to complete a task-the most productive way to work.

Remove distractions: close your door (if you have one), do not check your e-mail, and turn off the ringer on your phone, cell phone, pager, and fax.

Schedule down time for yourself. Do something different--refresh your system so you return to work with a clean perspective, and the ability to work more effectively.

Do these sound familiar? Many are techniques for de-stressing and rightly so. Multitasking is stressful.

Technology can multitask forever. Humans cannot.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH: Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. John Lennon.

2004 Human Technologies Global, Inc. All rights reserved

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