The Myth of Multitasking – Weekly Update

The Myth of Multitasking – Weekly Update

Ken Meyer, SHRM-SCP, SPHR | Principal, KWM HR Consulting LLC

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the concept of multitasking has gained an almost mythological status, often touted as the hallmark of efficiency and productivity. However, evidence increasingly suggests that multitasking is, in fact, a myth. As President of New York City SHRM, I feel it is crucial to address this misconception head-on.

True multitasking, the simultaneous execution of multiple tasks, is neurologically impossible. Our brains are designed to focus on one task at a time. When we think we are multitasking, we are actually engaging in rapid task-switching, which can diminish overall productivity and increase cognitive load. Studies have shown that switching between tasks can reduce productivity by up to 40%, as our brains require time to reorient to each new task. This not only hampers efficiency but also increases the likelihood of errors.

Moreover, the myth of multitasking can have significant adverse effects on employee well-being. The constant shift in focus can lead to mental fatigue, higher stress levels and burnout. It can also impair our ability to think creatively and solve complex problems, as deep, focused thinking is disrupted.

In the human resources field, it is our responsibility to promote strategies that foster genuine productivity and employee well-being. Encouraging a work culture that values deep work, where employees are allowed to focus on one task at a time, can lead to more meaningful and high-quality output. We should advocate for structured schedules, minimize unnecessary interruptions, and emphasize the importance of mindfulness and single-tasking. By debunking the myth of multitasking, we can cultivate a more productive, engaged and healthy workforce.

Be well.


President, New York City SHRM

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