Russell Bishop over at the Huffington Post has an interesting take on multitasking. I like his distinction between multiple goals versus multitasking. He writes:
When you take on a goal, figure out what you have to deliver in order to succeed, and then determine the steps necessary, you must manage the process one step at a time. That doesn’t mean you can’t have multiple goals; however, it does mean that when you are working on one area, you better have your focus there if you want to do well.
Have you ever been on one of those “conference calls” with co-workers? You know the ones – people spread around the country or even the world – inevitably someone poses a question to someone else and the other person has no idea what the question is about? Been there? Maybe you were the one who didn’t know what was up?
How come? Perhaps you decided the call wasn’t that important and so decided to catch up on your email instead. Been there? Even better, ever been on one call and used your cell phone to make a second call? (Mute buttons hide lots of sins).
These days, you can even be in the same room and someone, perhaps most, will be “attending the meeting” while simultaneously answering messages on their Blackberries or leaving the room for a phone call.
What’s up with this? Most people call it multitasking. I call it half-tasking. Half their attention is on one goal, and half their attention is on another.
When someone is busy half-tasking, often both tasks wind up being underperformed. In fact, sometimes the most important reasons for being there get missed.
You should click here and read his entire article though, because it makes you think a little more creativity about this whole issue, that I simply just avoid. Precisely because I do have difficulty chewing gum and walking (or at least boiling water).