multi-taskingIn most industries, multi-tasking is viewed as a must-have skill.  In situations where 2+ tasks at hand pertain to the betterment of the business or organization, multi-tasking can be effective. If the tasks involve personal devices or to-do’s – smartphones and smartpads, online activity for personal business, etc. – the ending result of actual work-related duties can be lower in quality. Even juggling two or more tasks that are 100% work related can, at times, deplete overall quality once finished.

Is multi-tasking a valuable skill? Or, is it a productivity killer? 

Certain positions must be filled by someone who is an effective multi-tasker. Office managers, coordinators, and receptionists can attest to how crucial the ability to multi-task is; if it weren’t for this skill, phone calls would be dropped, appointments missed, consumers disappointed. In fact, the entire office may suffer because as many executive and administrative assistants know, they’re the glue that often holds it all together.  Other positions that require steady focus on one or two (sometimes three or more) large-scale projects are often filled by those who claim to effectively multi-task, but in actuality, some component(s) of the project(s) suffer.  Missteps occur, details may be scrapped, overall quality diminished – all because the multi-tasker has too many tasks to manage.  Throw in a check of the personal email or two, and the ending result is bound to happen later than originally planned, and – of course – incomplete.

I’ve met people who thrive off of flying through extensive to-do lists, jumping around from task to task, feeling overwhelmed and eventually suffering from mental exhaustion by day’s end.  These types of work habits, when followed day in/day out, can be incredibly taxing on the body and mind.  If the multi-tasking type is asked to focus on just one project, he or she often feels as though not enough is getting done. I’ve also met professionals who swear by the daily to-do list and opt to focus on just one task at a time, completing it thoroughly before moving on to the next.  The lists are prioritized, organized, and reasonable, and the ending results are thorough.

I consider myself a multi-tasker, though I do not enjoy a frenzied work day. There are many components of my job that require total concentration; some daily tasks that are more basic in nature can be grouped – and completed – together. My ability to multi-task effectively depends on the day at hand. Do you consider yourself an effective multi-tasker? Or do you feel as though your work productivity actually suffers due to having too much on your plate?