Talking with a friend yesterday, I was taken by his desire to get away from multi-tasking (the darling of management education the world over) and back to what he called mono-tasking. Instead of juggling many jobs, often inefficiently and based purely on quantity, he wanted to espouse the concept of doing a set of focused jobs, in a sequence, really well.
I think this is something to try in the New Year. But it is, from my past experience at trying, quite difficult to accomplish. With the current tendancy to require immediate responses to emails, with interruptions (especially in open plan offices) the norm, it can often be difficult to stay focused (and therefore more efficient) on a single job. I also wonder if the ‘tweet’ generation actually is able to stay focused in the midst of continual disruptions of flow and the often staccato nature of pervasive communication.
So what can be done to reduce this? Well I think we need to teach people to expect a slower response then they may wish, adopt a library reading room attitude in the office, and remove communication heavy devices into a desk draw.
Let’s try and see how it goes!
Addendum (20 Jan 2013)
from the Fast Company
We all know multitasking is inefficient. A classic 2007 study of Microsoft workers found that when they responded to email or instant messaging alerts, it took them, on average, nearly 10 minutes to deal with their inboxes or messages, and another 10-15 minutes to really get back into their original tasks. That means that a mere three distractions per hour can preclude you from getting anything else done.