Multitasking is the act of doing many different things at the same time. The human brain is capable of working on various activities at a single moment in time. The number of activities a particular individual can handle, however, differs from person to person. Some people, who have more multitasking skills, are comfortable in doing many things at one time, while some people prefer to do less at a single point in time.
An example may be answering the phone, checking emails, looking after a child, baking and cooking, all at the same time. Some may find it difficult to manage all these tasks at once, while others may have no problem in doing all of these attentively. From a professional perspective, a person is said to have multitasking skills when he is involved in many projects at the same time, or is required to balance and manage a very hectic and demanding job.
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Multitasking skills have become an important tool in the modern workplace. With extreme pressure on time and completing multiple tasks at once, a person is forced to multitask, in order to save time. Multitasking skills are, generally, considered the deciding factor between leaders and followers. Leaders have excellent multitasking skills; they can, and are required to, take care of multiple things at the same time. Multitasking skills help them in managing the time better, getting things done on time and finding some spare time for themselves.
There are a few myths related to multitasking. Some people believe that females are better in multitasking than their male counterparts. This is not true. Men and women are equally using the multitasking skills to do their work. It is true, however, that the concept of multitasking skills started at homes, where people (mostly females) were known to work on a number of different household chores at the same time. This concept was taken further to jobs, where a need to study and improve this skill was required. Therefore, it is incorrect to assume that multitasking skills are gender specific.
Another common myth of multitasking skills is that they can cause exhaustion to a person and make him a workaholic. This is only true, however, if the person is working long hours and has a very hectic office life. If a person is overburdened with work, but manages time effectively and uses multitasking skills efficiently, he may still be required to put in extra hours to complete the work.
This could make the person a workaholic and would, eventually, lead to exhaustion. Therefore, multitasking skills, directly, do not lead to exhaustion; but the nature of the job and working hours can lead to fatigue in an individual.
People also believe that multitasking skills depend on the individual’s strengths and limitations. That is true. A person who has the intellectual ability and strength to manage various tasks at a time is likely to be a better multitask-er than a person who lacks such ability. The job description, quality of work, commitment and working environment also determine the amount of multitasking an individual can handle effectively. Similarly, a person’s internal motivation, ambitions, needs and beliefs also determine the multitasking ability of an individual.
Nowadays, multitasking skills have become important and a quality to aspire to. It is made to believe that all should master multitasking skills. Yet, in reality, multitasking skills may become misleading and troublesome too. People who do not have good multitasking skills may be led to mistakenly believe that they will be able to do various tasks at once and save time. However, if the multitasking skills are weak, an individual is likely to make mistakes, resulting in doing the same tasks repeatedly. This would, ultimately, lower the productivity of the person and cause frustration, for him and for the people he is working with.
Multitasking skills are developed as a person progresses on the learning curve. An individual who is doing a certain task for the very first time would find it difficult to multitask with other activities. As that particular task is done repeatedly over a period, the person will develop some ease in performing it, and will be more comfortable in doing other tasks in the same time.
Again, however, it is not necessary that every person will follow the same learning curve in achieving comfort in performing a particular task. Similarly, it is also not important that every individual will be comfortable in multitasking at all.
There are various reasons why multitasking is considered to be so important. The pace of life, nowadays, has become fast.
There are more opportunities for, and higher expectations from, every one. Life has also become more demanding, especially in the professional careers, hence the common use of fast foods, faster travel and fastest communication services.