Why we need to stop multi-tasking right now?

Anna Majowska
3 min readApr 16, 2019

It seems the days of us all trusting, that having the ability to multi-task is a skill needed at the office, are finally fading away into the realm of myth. Sure, rapid task-switching is an innate part of some, very specific jobs — name any position which operates on service requests from multiple channels, like an admin clerk. But for the majority of office workers, it is likely to cause more harm than benefit. How?

Multi-tasking is likely to cause us to miss important aspects of the various jobs being juggled. Since our focus is split between them, we cannot really give the needed amount of attention to any. The best way to imagine the nature of the problem, is to ponder why using mobile phones while driving was banned, isn’t it?

While we remain open to multi-task, every distraction that comes our way can be treated equally as important, as whatever we’re currently doing. So, by keeping ourselves already stacked with tasks, there is no clear point at which we’d say that our plate is full now, since the thinking is, “we need to stay flexible and open to new things that come up, at all times”. It’s neither healthy, nor pleasant, not even mentioning efficiency.

From the above, it’s clear to see, how multi-tasking may easily be making us slower and prone to mistakes. What this, in turn, may cause, is that we’ll also feel stressed and tired all the time — a recipe for many a negative prospect, with lack of job satisfaction being only the minor one among them.

Finally, constant switching between tasks may also contribute to shortening our attention span, a trait that’s hard enough to get & keep in an interconnected society like ours.

What’s the alternative, then?
Instead of conforming to the above fails, consider using a simple Kanban approach, which main focus is on clarifying what we should do now, which items can wait, and what was it that we’ve been doing right before being called away from the desk. A simple Kanban board will keep us on track, regardless of how many times we may get interrupted. Prioritising tasks will also be much easier, along with managing any unplanned jobs.

Kanban Tool clearly facilitates better focus on what we’re doing, by letting teams collapse away all lists that do not need to be followed right now, or at all — in cases, when perhaps other task columns are a responsibility of another team.
And that’s another thing — sharing a board among the entire team. Since we’re set on visualizing workflow, why not do this together, and save endless amounts of time not having to ask who’s doing or have done what. Keeping a record of the team’s entire process in one place, to which the whole team has access, is of great convenience.

This is one easy way to introduce order into our work day, and to get more done in the process! But the best aspect each of us can get from using a Kanban system for workflow management, is the peace of mindstemming from not being constantly torn between actions and tasks. Isn’t it worth considering then?

First published on the Kanban Tool Blog.