The truth about multi-tasking

Das Telefon zwischen Schulter und Kinn eingeklemmt, dabei im Internet surfen und dem Kollegen schnell eine Notiz schreiben. Ist doch alles ein Zeichen von hoher Effizienz, oder? Im Gegenteil! Mehr als ein Viertel der Arbeitszeit geht dadurch verloren, sagen Wissenschaftler.

Lesen Sie in Secretary Today, warum Multitasking so schwierig ist, und wie wirklich effiziente Arbeit aussieht.

The word "multi-task" is a misnomer, modern research suggests. What we think of as multi-tasking – the brain doing various tasks at the same time – is actually "a rapid toggling among tasks rather than simultaneous processing," says Jordan Grafman, head of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Only tasks that are automatic, like walking, can be performed simultaneously with other actions, researchers agree. With anything that requires planning, the brain has to switch back and forth.

'Multi-tasking' is expensive

According to IT research firm Basex, what we call multi-tasking, is costing firms an average of 2,1 hours per employee per working day. The main problem is email. More than half of employees open email immediately, even when they are pressed for time, the survey revealed. Research by Microsoft Research Labs shows that workers go off in another direction after an interruption, such as incoming email, 40 percent of the time.

How to stop multi-tasking

  • Save time and energy by separating your workday into blocks of time devoted to each project or task.
  • Set aside 90 minutes “focus time” each day to work without interruption on your highest-priority project.
  • Set aside specific times to check emails and voicemail messages.

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misnomer Fehlbezeichnung 
research Forschung 
toggling Umschalten 
stroke Schlaganfall 
to be pressed for time unter Zeitdruck stehen 
to reveal enthüllen 
to be devoted togewidmet sein