Myth #1: Multitasking is critical in a world of infinite demand.
This myth is based on the assumption that human beings are capable of doing two cognitive tasks at the same time. We’re not. Instead, we learn to move rapidly between tasks. When we’re doing one, we’re actually not even aware of the other.
If you’re on a conference call, for example, and you turn your attention to an incoming email, you’re missing what’s happening on the call as long as you’re checking your email. Equally important, you’re incurring something called “switching time.” That’s the time it takes to shift from one cognitive activity to another.
On average, according to researcher David Meyer, switching time increases the amount of time it takes to finish the primary task you were working on by an average of 25 per cent. In short, juggling activities is incredibly inefficient.
Difficult as it is to focus in the face of the endless distractions we all now face, it’s far and away the most effective way to get work done. The worst thing you can do as a boss is to insist that your people constantly check their email.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.