Business Article #3: For the Joy of Sharing

The Reality of Multi-tasking

By Alexis Zahner
Co-Director of Human Leaders, LinkedIn Top 20 Voices 2022, Thought(ful) Leader & Speaker
Lennox Head, NSW, Australia

Foreword by Venkat
There are two ways of driving a vehicle – to consider an analogy. One way is to just follow the memory of one’s driving skills and the memory of the rules / processes without much attention to the topology, weather and situation one is driving in. The second way is to integrate the inputs on topology, weather conditions and the real situation with those memory based skills. It goes without saying that the second case demands greater focus but in the end gives a safer and smoother experience. The tendencies are similar in our habits of daily living. Largely things will function without much ado by letting the brain on ‘auto-pilot’ mode doing multiple things since skills for most actions are in memory. However, the best decisions for the situation in a given context can be done only when an undivided focus and observation on the external stimuli drives the routine (just like the second case driver). The price to pay by doing multi-tasking is to leave one’s intellect out of the productivity equation and let our senses con us into an illusory sense of accomplishment. Alexis, in this eye-opening article gives an inside look into the phenomenon of multi-tasking which has become a second nature for everyone especially at work. She presents the dictum based on research studies and what we could do to be mindful and productive in the truest sense of it.

Explore the myth on productivity and multi-tasking along with practical suggestions from Alexis for a more effective living and enriching experience at work.


It’s through experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly of Leadership, I found my purpose for being; to make business better for Human Beings.

It’s my core mission to empower Leaders to be capable of human-centric Leadership through cultivating their own self-Leadership, creating the capacity to be human-first and leader-second focused in the workplace. I’m the Co-Director of Human Leaders, a peer to peer learning platform for Leadership at levels that creates a safe space for Leadership learning and evolution.

See what we do at Human Leaders at:
www.wearehumanleaders.com or reach out at hello@wearehumanleaders.com


The Reality of Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is something anyone in business is likely to be doing almost constantly on a daily basis. Simply, it’s when you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time. Taking a meeting while on the run to a presentation? Answering email’s whilst on that zoom conference call? Conversing with an employee and finishing that task at the same time? We’ve all been there, are there, and likely will continue to multi task from time-to-time in the future. But why do we do it? Often, it’s because we’re trying to be more productive by completing some of the many demands on our time simultaneously, but, how productive does multi tasking really make us?

Multi-tasking has been linked to a reduction in productivity of approximately 40% through lost concentration from switching between tasks (Cherry, 2020 via verywellmind.com). It also causes communication break downs, memory issues, errors due to lacking focus, and stress and anxiety from being overwhelmed by too many tasks.

Research by Joshua Rubinstein, Jeffrey Evans, and David Meyer, suggests the more complex a task becomes, the more time we lose shifting our focus between tasks whilst trying to multi task – essentially resulting in a less productive outcome than if we’d just focused on one thing at a time.

You’re probably reading this article right now, whilst eating lunch at your desk, catching up on emails and listening to a podcast – we’re so attuned to multi tasking, often we don’t even realize how fragmented our attention as become, but the truth is, multi tasking is actually hurting your productivity and efficiency.

So what can we do about it? Firstly, tune in. Bring your attention presently to accurately assess how many things you’re actually trying to focus on at any given time. This is called mindful attention, and the more we practice returning our attention to the present in this way, the better we become at it.

Secondly, prioritize tasks accordingly to ensure those requiring solid attention to detail can be scheduled appropriately. This is going to help you manage your time to focus on just the task at hand, helping to minimize mistakes and rework caused by multitasking.

Lastly, schedule ‘mental downtime’. Giving yourself adequate mental downtime means eliminating multi-tasking completely and taking a break. This actually helps to decrease stress and increase productivity in the long run. Mindfulness meditation and exercise have both been shown to increase brain grey matter which has been correlated to increased cognitive performance and memory – try these next time you’re scheduling some mental downtime.

In short, doing one thing at a time, and taking a break, are the most effective ways to increase your productivity, especially with complex tasks!

By Alexis Zahner
Co-Director of Human Leaders, LinkedIn Top 20 Voices 2022, Thought(ful) Leader & Speaker
Lennox Head, NSW, Australia



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J Vaidhinathanj
J Vaidhinathanj
May 25, 2022 10:04 am

Cannot BUT agree that ” Multi-tasking has been linked to a reduction in productivity of approx 40%….” and “..doing one thing at a time…..are the most effective ways to increase your productivity….”.very nicely elucidated. Compliments to Alexis.

Ravi also deserves all praise for apt choices words in the forwards in every articles published.