Multi-tasking is trying to do many different things at one time. In reality few people can truly multi-task with the intended result of saving time while not affecting the quality of their work. Scientific research reveals that the mind is limited by how many things it can juggle at the same time. There are a few exceptional people who are able to juggle more than the average person and we all think we are a part of that group. Statistically that is hardly likely.

When the average person is multi-tasking some level of quality suffers. Maybe not on all the things they are trying to do at once but often at least something gets less than the attention it deserves. This usually results in a mistake or two. What your tasks are will affect the level of disaster that results from the mistake(s).

Another risk of multi-tasking is that while trying to do multiple things at one time you may end up not getting any one of the things done on time. On the other hand, doing one task at a time you are likely to enjoy some level of accomplishment of task(s).

There is a caveat. If you are going to do one thing at a time you need to decide in advance how long you are going to work on that task. The common answer, especially from my ADHD affected clients is “as long as it takes to finish the task.” That is the wrong answer. You decide ahead of time how long you are going to spend on the task. You do this by figuring out the value of the task in the scheme of things or the value of the task to the person who assigned you the task if that is the case. Based on that information you determine how much time you are going to spend on the task.

For example: Writing a memo to the CEO of the company for your boss versus writing an internal memo to the staff about keeping the staff kitchen clean are different value tasks. You should not spend the same amount of time for each memo. The memo to your CEO demands more time and attention than the kitchen cleaning memo because of the value difference.

Once you start thinking in time ratio value of tasks you will begin to understand that there is no reason to multi-task and have quality suffer. You are first judging the quality necessary for each task by rationing time for each task based on its value in the greater scheme of things.

Don’t get caught in multi-failing by trying to do everything at once, all to the same standard. Give each task the time and quality that is appropriate for its value.