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Multi-Tasking…is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Posted on 1/22/16 10:00 AM

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Recently I attended a webinar offering tips on how to perform a certain task better.  The main tip was to make sure to be completely focused on the task and reduce all possible distractions during the time you are performing it.  The presenter mentioned that when someone states that ‘multi-tasking’ is one of their strengths, she is not impressed.

As an HR professional I use the term multi-tasking frequently; we list it as a desirable skill in some of our position postings.  What we are looking for are people with the ability to handle performing several different types of tasks effectively and productively.  However, as is the case with the webinar presenter, there is a negative perception of the term multi-tasking.  This negative perception is one of someone performing two or more different tasks simultaneously; doing a little on one, then a little on another, giving neither task full attention. 

The positive perception of multi-tasking is a person who can be focused on one task while performing it, complete it, then move on to the next task and perform it with focus and effectiveness.  It is also the ability to handle an interruption during the performance of a task, give attention to that interruption (if needed) and return to the original task, in a non-flustered and productive manner

The negative perception sees multi-tasking as a hindrance.  Constantly switching from one task to another results in none of the tasks getting completed timely or effectively.  For some, it also causes stress.

To perform multi-tasking well, each task must receive one’s full attention while it is being performed.  LPI has a fast paced work environment with a wide variety of projects and services being performed by team members constantly.

Our team members possess exceptional time management and organizational skills; common methods practiced are:

  • Plan - Make a list of tasks, appointments, etc. monthly, weekly, and daily

  • Prioritize tasks – identify the most important, most time sensitive tasks

  • Tackle the ‘dreaded’ tasks first – get the least fun tasks out of the way, right away

  • Dedicate time to each task – do one at a time

  • Eliminate/reduce distractions during that time

  • Set timelines – factor in specific deadlines

  • Break ‘large’ tasks/projects down – give them their own list and timeline(s)

  • Schedule ‘breaks’

  • Be aware of the ‘what ifs’ – have a plan if the unexpected comes up

  • Pick up where you left off once that interruption is addressed

There is satisfaction in seeing check marks down your list at the end of each day/week/month.

So, on your resume, feel free to leave ‘multi-tasking’ listed under skills or strengths and hope for a recruiter with a positive perception of the term.  Or, be safe and change it to ‘the ability to handle performing several different tasks effectively and productively’ (if you have the space).

Claire Gibbons - Director of Human Resources

      Written by Claire Gibbons

      Executive Director of Human Resources

      Connect with Claire on Linkedin

 

 

Topics: career development