Avoiding the multitasking bottleneck
Multitasking has long been associated with productivity but its effectiveness relies greatly on the ability of the person doing the multitasking and the combination of tasks being done. Some people are capable of handling multiple responsibilities well while others may feel overwhelmed. Some tasks are also more of a distraction than a productivity boost. Regardless of how good you are at multitasking, you have to be aware of multitasking bottlenecks that can affect productivity.
Too much to do
The best jugglers in the word have their limits and you do too. The more tasks you try to do simultaneously the less time you have to spend on specific tasks. There is also the problem of having to switch concentration between tasks which can take time as well as mental effort. The more this has to be done the larger the strain will be. Limiting the number of tasks you attempt at once may help to reduce this strain. Mixing simple tasks with more complicated ones can also help reduce the overhead of switching focus while multitasking.
Too many distractions
Social media, phone calls, emails and a myriad of unexpected tasks can distract you from your intended workload. When this occurs you may find it difficult to complete tasks on your to do list and the tasks that you do complete may seem trivial. While distractions may be helpful to relieve stress or break monotony, too many distractions can seriously hamper productivity. One way to combat this is to eliminate the sources of distractions. Obviously this cannot always be done, but cell phones can be put away and televisions can be turned off. You can also substitute positive distractions for negative ones. Playing some music could drown out the disruptive co-worker or noisy neighbour.
Prioritization of tasks
All tasks do not have the same urgency and multitasking may not be the ideal option for every situation. Checking emails can be postponed until after the meeting and the report that team members need may have to be done together with other tasks to ensure that it is completed on time. Prioritizing tasks can help you concentrate on the tasks that matter most instead of multitasking just for the sake of multitasking.
The benefits of multitasking cannot be denied but the danger of doing it wrong cannot be ignored. The multitasking bottleneck leaves you with so many tasks to accomplish that very little actually gets accomplished. By being aware of the pitfalls we can avoid them, multitask more effectively and be more productive.