Why switching tasks is killing your productivity

by | 25.05.2016
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Multitasking is great right? It means we can get more done, be more productive, perform better and cross all those tasks off of our ‘to do’ list in record time. If only this were true. Multitasking is, in fact, the single biggest productivity killer in the workplace.

Sure, being able to juggle multiple balls in a world moving at breakneck speed is an occasional necessity. Yet, according to a study carried out in 2013, the loss of productivity due to multitasking is costing the US economy an estimated $450 billion per year.

What’s more, on average, we spend just 1 minute and 15 seconds on a task before being distracted, each distraction creates 25 minutes of ‘dead time’ before the task being worked on is resumed in earnest and it takes us 50% longer to finish the task than it would’ve done if we had worked distraction free.

Multitasking is productivity’s silent assassin. That’s why we’ve put a bounty on multitasking’s head. Everything we do revolves around making organisations and businesses more productive.

There are many ways individuals can safeguard productivity, from preparing well for the working week to managing time more effectively. It’s much harder for organisations to implement systems and procedures which can reduce the amount of distractions in the workplace or the need for their employees to multitask.

 

Manage your tasks more effectively

 

One way they can seek to do this is through better task management. Businesses across a range of industries are finding easy ways to manage their tasks better which is helping them optimise their productivity. Great task management (and mitigating the risk of multitasking) is the art of being able to keep track of what is being done, when it’s being done and who is doing it.

Within Quinyx Task Management, each task can be broken down into sub tasks, giving employees an easy, step-by-step guide with visual aids to follow for everything from (if we take a retail store as an example) a standard opening procedure to setting up a new window display. The best thing about this is every employee can see their tasks through the Quinyx app and are able to time-stamp them once they are complete.

Businesses who operate across multiple sites, like retail stores, restaurants, gyms and hotels, crave a degree of consistency in the experience they provide their customers. In these types of businesses, it can be next to impossible to avoid multitasking as they are rife with distractions and unforeseen interruptions They also tend to have relatively high staff turnover and a large percentage of part-time employees.

However, through better task management, they are able to give their employee a clear, easy to understand list of the tasks they need to complete each shift while at the same time providing managers with a real-time overview of the work being completed. Not only does this help employees focus, it helps ensure the essential tasks are always completed.

We’ll never be able to completely avoid multitasking. It will always exist and, to a certain extent, is a necessary evil we need to learn how to live, manage effectively and learn how to avoid the worst pitfalls from it where we can.

And in our experience of working with some of the best companies in Europe, we’ve found integrated task management is one of the most effective ways of doing this.

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Tommy Tonkins

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