You Can’t Multitask

Oh sure, I know you THINK you multitask wonderfully. You think the people on the other side of your phone call don’t realize you are only there partially. You think you are MORE efficient because you are doing several things at once. Guess what. You’re not more efficient. You are less efficient. Worse than that, in my opinion, is that you are incredibly rude. Rude. Ill-Mannered. Offensive. You know what reaction you are getting on the other end of YOUR inattention? People are turning off and turning away. Hey – if this isn’t that important to you, it’s not so important to me either.

Do a search on the phrase “multitasking less efficient”. Before you can complete typing the word “less”, the suggested search comes back with the phrase. I was going to put in links to studies showing that people who multitask are: (1) the very ones least able to handle multitasking (2) less efficient than those who do not multitask (3) less productive than those who do not multitask (4) decreasing their brain functioning even when they are NOT multitasking (lowers your brain IQ by 10 points even after multitasking) (5) raising their stress levels (6) wasting 20-40% of their time. There were WAY too many links for me to choose one or two. Still think that multi-tasking is a good idea?

I was in a business meeting the other day. There were 3 presenters. Two of them had given their slides to the host and had the host advancing the screen. The middle presenter, who spent the first few minutes in group chat pointing out that his time was limited and he had to be on directly at THIS time and not at THAT time, chose to run his presentation from his machine. Not a problem except he did NOT bother to shut down all his instant message windows. Still not a problem except he chose to open them and answer while he talked to us. Really???? You are trying to tell us about the importance of your product, and you are opening IM windows??? Even though you were saying “can’t talk now”, you were interrupting your own presentation. How incredibly rude. How incredibly stupid. Even when you talked to us and stayed on the screen, your voice was distracted. We knew you were looking at your phone or looking at the blinking IM bar. The fact is, you were a bore. I don’t know about others, but I tuned out. You kept interrupting the conversational flow. I’m not even mentioning all the times you said “um” or “uh”. You are the LAST person I would ever invite to give a presentation.

I have phone calls all the time with people who are obviously doing something else while talking to me. The big irony is that typically it’s the other person who requested the call. I can hear the distraction in your voice. You can’t articulate clearly what you want. You forget what you were saying. You are rude. You are inefficient. You are wasting my time. When I hear you drifting away, I leave too. This is not productive. It’s also not how effective leaders operate. When I am on the phone with my VP, I KNOW he’s focused on our conversation. We rarely need the full 30 minutes we schedule because we are both focused and on-topic the entire time.

Come on, people. Wise up. (*laughing* Or as my friend Jane used to say “couth up”) If you are trying to communicate with another person, be it voice or written, FOCUS. I’m so tired of emails with misspelled words, extra words, missing attachments. Take the time to – oh my gosh – REREAD what you’ve written before rushing to hit send. If you are talking to someone, don’t be opening your mail or IMs. Focus on the voice on the other end. It doesn’t take that much time or effort. You’re not impressing people favorably. You’re not working well. You’re rude. You’re inefficient. You’re a bore.

I have some writing to do. Please excuse me while I set my status to “do not disturb”.

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