Implications of Multitasking

Multitasking (dividing one’s time between multiple tasks during a day or week) wastes time even though a person may keep very busy. It’s driven by compromise between competing projects, but rather than please everyone, the result is increased costs and delayed completion of every project. Multitasking encourages efficiency (getting a lot done) as a priority over effectiveness (getting the right work done).

Efficiency versus Effectiveness

Efficiency and effectiveness aren’t the same thing. Keeping busy doesn’t mean that someone’s time is being used wisely – it doesn’t ensure that the right work gets done.

Switching between tasks may keep resources fully utilized, but that doesn’t mean that the most projects, or the most important projects, are completed – quite the opposite. Splitting up time between multiple masters has the strange and unexpected result of getting less done – a lot less done.

Sharing scarce resources between competing projects is a compromise that serves no one’s best interests.

Clear Priorities

The alternative to multitasking is for resources to know which project (task) is the most important and finish working on it before moving on to the second most important project or task. The alternative to bad multitasking is to have resources complete tasks before moving on to the next task. (?)

Whose Priorities?

The obvious problem is deciding which tasks to complete first. Which department will be given priority? Whose projects are at the top of the list? That is where portfolio management comes in.


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