Okay, so enough already. We hear from managers all the time about how they “multi-task” to be more effective. It may be time to really review this myth.

Multi-tasking came from the home, where multiple projects can happen simultaneously. A good example might be that the laundry is being done, while dinner is being prepared, while watching TV. In this example, none of the activities actually require a typical person’s full brain power or attention. In fact, if you were preparing a complex, gourmet dinner, it is no longer prudent to multi-task.

Unfortunately, too many people are taking this concept and applying it incorrectly in the workplace. Multi-tasking has become an excuse for not focusing on important projects, incomplete work, and failing to listen to one another. The results, I fear, will become catastrophic if we don’t apply some common sense. Does this sound like you?

* You place a call to somebody and then read/answer email during the call. Later, you don’t remember some information from that phone call and have to ‘double-check’ it with the other person.
* You check your email or text messages during a meeting.
* You take cell phone calls in the midst of discussing something.

There are a million more examples; we all know them. Compare these to the household example above. There are two critical distinctions:

1. In these examples, other people are being directly impacted, rather rudely, by the multi-tasking behavior.

2. Communication, a critical business function, is not receiving the appropriate focus that it demands for full effectiveness.

This week, after forwarding the exact same mission-critical email to a colleague three times, I am at a loss for her lack of focus. We cannot be so busy that our lack of attention infringes on other people’s workloads, and expect our careers and businesses to flourish. Business simply doesn’t work that way.

Author's Bio: 

Besides her experience as a Leadership Development and Motivational speaker at corporate sales and business meetings, Diane has also distinguished her career with her engaging lectures on personal development. She has been a guest lecturer at the State University of New York at Binghamton, Rutgers and various universities throughout Mexico. She currently instructs Leadership to adult learners at Farleigh Dickinson University.

After graduating cum laude with a BA in economics, Diane received an MBA in marketing from the Cornell Graduate School of Management. She is an honored member of International Who's Who and appears in the National Directory of Who's Who in Executives and Professionals. She has also been chosen Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association-Morris County Chapter, MVP of the Parsippany, NJ Area Chamber of Commerce and is the 2007 recipient of the prestigious Ralph Ganger Award from her professional association, NNJ-ASTD.