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There is no doubt that all of us multitask on a daily basis. In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to juggle so many different streams of information without doing so. Multitasking has even become a desirable trait to list on resumes and to discuss during interviews with potential employers. However, recent studies have shown that not all types of multitasking are beneficial, and can even result in less efficiency in the workplace.

Efficiency and the Right Type of Work

As mentioned earlier, most of us are required to multitask on a daily basis. This could be something as simple as changing the radio station while commuting to work in the morning or taking notes while listening to an important phone call. For simple tasks like these, multitasking is a necessity.

The real problem arises when we try using the same strategy for tasks that require more brainpower. Studies have shown that the average person can store around seven items in their short term memory at any given time. This is an issue when multitasking to accomplish various unrelated tasks, where each task requires a deeper level of cognitive thinking. Multitasking can hinder rather than help your performance because important information can’t be transferred into your long-term memory for use later on. The inability for our brains to take-in and recall information when it’s coming from two separate sources leads to ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

Preventing Downtime and Boredom

On the plus side, multitasking can help to alleviate downtime at work. Many tasks at work require a team’s effort, and that leaves some individuals waiting for co-workers to complete their part of the project. Multitasking can be beneficial in these circumstances in order to fully utilize employees, even when they are waiting on another department.

Also, multitasking can help employees to stay engaged, and gives them a variety of tasks to work on during their workday. This could help to prevent employee turnover and make for a happier workforce.

What Makes Multitasking Easier?

Organization and connectivity are key to multitasking effectively and in today’s world, technology can play a large role. Something as simple as investing in the right digital productivity tools (note taking apps, digital to-do lists, file sharing solutions) or the right business communication system that allows you to transfer work calls to your cell phone, can change the way you conduct business on a day-to-day basis.

The fact is multitasking is a necessity in the fast-paced society we live in today. It’s important to realize when multitasking can help with productivity, but also when you should focus on a single task to be most effective.