Multi-tasking is a Myth

Four years ago I was inspired to write Attention Divided: Avoid Multi-Tasking.  multi

In that post, I shared the following:

My name is Beverly and I’m a recovering multi-tasker.  Like others of my ilk, I used to take pride in my juggling skills.  I believed that tackling two or three tasks simultaneously was a sign of efficiency.  Boy, was I wrong!

The truth is we just aren’t wired for multi-tasking.  Research shows that when we attempt to switch our attention back and forth we take 50% longer to finish a task and make up to 50% more errors. In the worst case scenario, multi-tasking can literally cost us our lives or at a minimum, our dignity.

I encouraged lawyers to stop the insanity and suggested 8 specific action steps to resist multi-tasking:

  • Control distractions – like the annoying pop-up: “You’ve Got Mail!” or push notifications on your smartphone or mobile device.  In fact, turn your smartphone OFF occasionally.
  • Give yourself a break from social media and the Internet.
  • Set boundaries for reading and responding to e-mail and texts.
  • Schedule a specific time each day to make and return phone calls.
  • Advise clients of your business practices – office hours, availability by phone, ability to accommodate unscheduled appointments.
  • Embrace “single tasking.”
  • Ditch the guilt.  Much of the reason we feel compelled to multi-task is because we believe it is expected of us.
  • Respect each other’s time whenever possible.  “Do You Have a Minute?” almost always translates into a much longer interruption.

In this month’s issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, I was thrilled to see Elizabeth Ruiz Frost’s article “Mental Shrinkage: The Many Costs of Multitasking.”  I couldn’t agree more with the title and the points made in Frost’s article.  If you haven’t read this month’s issue of the Bulletin, I urge you to do so.  Take a few minutes to read Frost’s article and ask yourself: is this me?  Do I see myself in these scenarios?  If the answer is yes, consider implementing the 8 point plan above.

All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis

One thought on “Multi-tasking is a Myth

  1. Pingback: The Year in Review – Top Posts in 2015 | Oregon Law Practice Management

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