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Multitasking: Definition, Benefits & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Is Multitasking?
  • 0:39 Advantages
  • 2:12 Disadvantages
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Johns

Ashley has taught college business courses and has a master's degree in management.

Multitasking has become a popular way to accomplish multiple tasks. However, the verdict is out on whether or not it is a good idea. This lesson explains the advantages and disadvantages of multitasking.

What Is Multitasking?

It seems like we constantly have a mountain of things we want to accomplish on a daily basis. If you wrote out the list and calculated how much time it would take to complete each task, would you have enough time in the day to do it all? For most of us, the answer is no. This is why we use multitasking.

Multitasking is when one person handles more than one task at the same time. Examples include chewing gum while walking, sending e-mails during a meeting, and talking on the phone while watching television. Research shows there are both advantages and disadvantages to multitasking. We will weigh both sides so you have an understanding of how to balance competing priorities and tasks in your life.

Advantages

There are many advantages of multitasking. Let's look at a few.

  • Saves time - Multitasking saves you time when there are tasks you can complete simultaneously. For example, you need to do some research for a project at work. You also plan to run a couple of miles today. To save time, you can listen to some educational videos while running. Rather than two hours to complete the two tasks, you saved an hour by multitasking.
  • Saves money - Multitasking saves a lot of money in the workplace. Rather than hiring more people to take on tasks, you can hire people who are good at multitasking. Do you need one person to file, one to answer phones, and another to greet people at the front desk? No. Hire someone who does the filing during downtime and who also has the customer service skills to handle the phone and greet people simultaneously.
  • Increases productivity - Multitasking can increase productivity in both the workplace and at home. As noted earlier, employees who multitask get more work done by doing both filing and greeting customers and clients. At home, you could multitask to get your chores done around the house faster. For example, you could unload and load the dishwasher while you are making dinner.
  • Prevents procrastination - Multitasking helps motivate people to achieve more. For example, have you ever made a to-do list for the day? It typically motivates people to cross items off the list. They feel they achieved something each time an item is crossed off. By multitasking, you are able to cross off more items and move on to the next one. This motivation enables people to achieve their goals rather than to procrastinate.

Disadvantages

While multitasking has its advantages, there is research that shows there are many disadvantages of multitasking. These disadvantages include impacting both your daily production and your physical health. Let's take a look at a few of these.

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