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Multi-tasking v Linear-tasking

by on July 27, 2011

              Multi-Tasking v. Linear-Tasking

There has been a lot of press recently on the pitfalls of multi-tasking.  In 100 AD, Roman philosopher Publilius Syrus pointed out that doing two things at once results in doing neither.  I strongly agree with that statement.  Linear-tasking, on the other hand, is an entirely different process, with an entirely different outcome.  In conversation with colleagues, clients and friends, I find there is a lot of confusion on these two methods.

Multi-tasking is the effort to accomplish two things at the exact same time.  Talking on the phone and reading your email simultaneously is a good example of multi-tasking.  Studies have shown that your brain does not fully comprehend the information from both sources.  You end up losing details from both.  These details may be very pertinent to what you are trying to accomplish.

Linear-tasking is a progression of individual steps that enables you to accomplish several things within the same time frame.  Cooking is an excellent example of linear-tasking.  Consider the following recipe for roasted chicken and sautéed vegetables:

Prepare the chicken and place it in the oven for 90 minutes.  While the chicken is roasting, clean and cut your vegetables.  Begin sautéing the vegetables when the chicken has 30 minutes left on the timer.

Voila!  Two things accomplished in a specific time frame, both of which had your undivided attention.

As an efficiency expert, I noticed that during dinner prep I had a 30 minute window with nothing to do.  As soon as the chicken was in the oven I cut up my veggies, but I don’t have to sauté them for another half hour.  So now I have time available to focus on another task.  I can focus on a client file, I can help the kids with some homework, I can listen to some music, I can do anything I want – as long as I don’t do it simultaneously with something else.

  1. Bravo! I think she’s got it!

    Nice work.

  2. mooreptfitness permalink

    Good advice Robin. Sometimes when we get busy, we try to do too much at once and the results are not optimal. Would you say slowing down and taking your time increases effeciency as well?

  3. robinroscillo permalink

    Slowing down and taking your time are important. Most important is focusing on what you are doing. When you focus, you can get things done more quickly because your mind is not in several different directions at once. It’s a win-win situation.

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