What are the Effects of Multitasking in the Workplace?

Posted by Mary Milorrie Campos
Mar 27, 2021
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Multitasking is a sought-after skill in the corporate world. But is it really a good thing? Studies suggest otherwise. Here’s what you should know about the effects of multitasking in the workplace and what you should do instead.

effects of multitasking in the workplace

Multitasking: Ideal or not?

Multitasking is the practice of switching back and forth between one task to another. This ability to juggle multiple things at once may be a good thing, but only to a certain extent. In real life, the debate of whether it is ideal to multitask or not depends on the nature of what you do.

Certain jobs, for instance, require good multitasking skills. Take customer service representatives, nurses, bank tellers, bartenders, receptionists, and other front-end roles for examples. To serve customers better, they must attend to several tasks at once. Multitasking on routine activities is also possible like eating and watching, exercising while listening to music, or talking to a friend while enjoying the scenery.

On the other hand, multitasking is not suitable for people who need a high level of concentration at work such as accountants, copywriters, artists, data entry specialists, librarians, and gym instructors. Focusing on one task at a time is necessary for these roles to produce quality and accurate outputs

If we’re going to consider the positive and negative effects of multitasking, its downsides far outweigh the benefits. Let’s explore more about it.


Effects of multitasking in the workplace

According to several studies and research, multitasking:

  • Reduces productivity by up to 40%.
  • Lowers the IQ by 15 points — the equivalent figures for people who stayed up all night.
  • Leads to lower emotional intelligence (EQ) which is an essential element in work performance.
  • Wastes significant amounts of time when switching between multiple tasks.
  • Affects the ability to differentiate between relevant information and irrelevant details.
  • Makes the brain less effective and efficient even when not multitasking.
  • Causes high-stress levels and poor decision-making.
  • Affects work quality: multitaskers produce less quality work and make more mistakes.

If you feel you’re experiencing any of these, it may be a sign for you to stop multitasking at work.


If not multitasking, then what?

Got a lot on your plate? Don’t worry, you can still deliver all of it even when you’re not multitasking. But if multitasking has already become a habit, change it instead with a better habit — that is, effective time management.

Time management gives you the power to focus on one task at a time and lets you distinguish your priorities from nonessential tasks. Moreover, it reduces stress while improving productivity.

Developing time management skills can be challenging at first, especially when you’re used to having a disorganized work process. But don’t fret over it; take it one step at a time until it becomes natural for you.

You can always start with the basics like:

  • Creating a realistic to-do list and work schedule.
  • Organizing your tasks according to importance and urgency.
  • Breaking down challenging tasks into manageable portions so you won’t feel too overwhelmed.
  • Removing distractions (e.g., smartphones and emails).
  • Setting aside time to take a break.
  • Making use of technology for manual tasks.
  • Negotiating unreasonable deadlines.
  • Delegating tasks.

It’s normal to fall back into the habit of multitasking when you have tons of deadlines to meet. However, it can only reduce your capacity to finish your tasks properly. And managing too many things simultaneously is pretty tiring. You may even experience burnout and decreased work satisfaction.

Rather than multitasking, develop better habits instead: start with good time management, avoid procrastination, and know your priorities. Doing these may help you become better at what you do — whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur.


Delegate your tasks with us

At D&V Philippines, we ensure that our accountants provide accurate reports to our clients by giving them sufficient time to focus on their duties. If you need help with your accounting, contact us today. You can also read our whitepaper, D&V Philippines: Your Talent Sourcing Partner, to find out how we invest in the development and growth of our people.New Call-to-action


Our Outsourcing: How to Make it Work guide explores how you can utilize accounting and finance outsourcing to drive growth to your business and add value to your processes.