There’s an ongoing debate about just how useful multitasking might be to individuals, but as research continues, the odds are not in the multitasker’s favor.
Researchers like Stanford’s Clifford Nass have published paper after paper showing the detrimental effects of doing more than one thing at a time. They find that you’re neither doing things faster, nor doing them well, both of which can be a major problem for business owners. After all, you spend most of your day being pulled in various directions at once.
Multitasking Isn’t The Best Choice
Multitasking isn’t just a danger to you, it can seriously hurt your business as well. Your customers need you to be present, not just near and your staff wants you at the top of your game.
The dangers of multitasking are many, here are just a few that are directly relevant to your business:
- Not giving customers adequate attention. When your attention is split, you can’t really pay attention to anything. This is a huge problem for the customers who need you to not only fulfill their needs, but anticipate needs they might not realize you can fill.
In retail, multitasking might spell a wrong-color shirt order or a too-big table, but in other fields multitasking could become deadly. The Harvard Health Blog tells of a man who was almost killed in the hospital because of multitasking gone terribly wrong.
- Rushing out half-considered initiatives. If you can’t keep your mind on one thing, it’s hard to really hook customers with advertisements or other initiatives. These ineffective marketing ploys are expensive, they hurt your reputation and if you continue in that direction your business will go bottom up.
- Falling into the 80/20 trap. There’s an adage in business called the 80/20 principle. Basically, it says that 20 percent of your efforts will result in 80 percent of your sales.
When business owners apply this properly, they game that number and focus solely on that 20 percent that’s productive and let the rest go to other employees or contractors. Unfortunately, many business owners are so busy with so many things that they don’t realize when they’re actually shifted focused to the 80 percent of fairly fruitless work, resulting in decreased production and the eventual loss of their business if they can’t get back on track.
- Burnout is real and if you’ve been multitasking for long, you’re probably feeling it pretty strongly. It can feel like you’re just completely out of energy, that you’re overwhelmed or you may even develop anxiety and panic attacks.
Multitasking can make burnout come on faster and feel worse, since you’re already overwhelmed with tasks before you even start your day. Burnout is serious, as anyone in a high pressure career field can attest. This is the kind of thing that’ll make you want to run away from your store without warning and work as a packer in a cheese factory.
You may be multitasking because you feel like you don’t have the resources for more help, but it’s surprising how easy and affordable it can be to add an outsourced team to your fold.
An answering service, for example, can take all your calls and schedule your appointments for you and they’ll only charge you for the calls that come in, making a whole team of operators far more affordable than a single full time employee. Help is out there to reduce your load and allow you to do more with the time you have. Multitasking is never the answer.