Think it’s great that you (and your staffers) can juggle three or four things at a time and still get the job done? Think again.
Turns out multitasking may be one of the worst things for performance. In fact, it pretty much assures sub-par performance when compared to folks who focus on one task at a time.
That’s just been confirmed by a recent study out of Stanford University.
Researchers there had people fill out a questionnaire based on how many tasks they performed simultaneously, from surfing the Web to listening to music to word processing.
What they found:
- Multitaskers had a much tougher time filtering out distractions (which are a fact of life in finance departments), and
- They also had greater difficulty remembering certain things and even “misremembered” things – which could spell disaster when you’re dealing with the company’s cash.
Not only that, but in the one skill you’d think multitasking cultivated in people – the ability to shift from one task to another – habitual multitaskers were much slower than their non-juggling counterparts.
The study has big implications for finance staffers in companies of all sizes and in all industries, who are being asked to shoulder more and more these days.
Things like listening to an iPod while keying in invoices or simultaneously auditing expense reports and working on that month-end report could lead to bigger headaches down the road.
Bottom line: While sometimes it’s unavoidable, multitasking doesn’t make you more efficient. Whenever possible, it’s better to get in the habit of taking it one task at a time.
Do you agree? Share your opinion on multitasking here.