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Multi-Tasking is a Lie

Have you ever been in a meeting or on a phone call and the other person is working on something else, while they are talking to you? They usually say to you. “I am a bit busy, so I am multitasking. Don’t worry I am listening.”  Well, they may be listening, but they are not focusing. They are not concentrating.

In a 2014 article, we learn from Dr. Napier:

“Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.”

That start/stop/start process is rough on us: rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small micro seconds), it’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time it can be energy sapping.”


In addition, if you are multi-tasking when someone is talking to you about something of importance to them, how does that make them feel or what does that say about what you think about their issue?

As educators, how do we like to be treated? We expect our students (and our staff during meeting and presentations) to have eyes on us, take notes and ask questions—in other words to focus on the matter at hand.

Of course, for years we have been presented with the “successful” person who is whipping through an office dealing with a plethora of details and decisions.  We are lead to believe that is what successful leaders do. Wrong.  This MAY be the result of good leadership, and if it is, it is preceded by thoughtful, deep consideration and reflection.

Still think you can multi-task? In her article, Dr. Napier provides a simple test. Click here to take it.https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creativity-without-borders/201405/the-myth-multitasking

If you want to efficiently and effectively address an issue, then focus.  Use all of your faculties to deeply explore the question and reflect on the potential answers.  You will save time, your decisions will be better and you will build stronger relationships with the people you lead.

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