Peter Bregman is a well known consultant on leadership, and the CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc., a global management consulting firm. His recent blog http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2010/05/how-and-why-to-stop-multitaski.html explains the disadvantages of multitasking:
- It is dangerous to multitask (for example, using a cell phone while driving)
- Getting distracted by an email or phone call is like a 10-point drop in IQ (same as losing one night sleep)
- Rapid multitasking can lead to a 40% drop in productivity
- Those who multitask extensively are less efficient at juggling multiple tasks those who do it infrequently
- Multitasking is stressful
At work, there is no option but to juggle multiple tasks. A software developer has to be thinking about the module s/he is writing, those defects that need to be fixed, the weekly report that has to be sent to his boss, the leave application that has to go to HR etc. Even for fixing a defect, s/he may have several files open, and multiple applications running on the PC.
Still, one can optimize the multitasking, and get better results by concentrating on one activity for longer. Our product, Sapience, has several pointers as to how much multitasking is happening in your workday. You can leverage that to scale down the level of multitasking, reduce stress, and drive up productivity.