According to the report The Effects of Multitasking on Organizations”, conducted by Realization, the leading provider of flow-based planning and execution solutions for engineering and projects, people who attempt to multitask suffer a wide array of negative effects.
A report examines how eliminating multitasking in 45 large organizations affected productivity. Globally, the study estimates that the economy annually loses $450 billion in productivity due to organizational multitasking.
“Our study clearly demonstrates the massive impact that organizational multitasking is having in many different industries, and the real tragedy is that most of the organizations that suffer from it don’t even realize that it’s happening,” said Sanjeev Gupta, CEO of Realization. “Everyone appears to be working very hard, but in fact, they are spending a lot of their time simply spinning their wheels, switching from task to task, without ever having the time to finish something before another ‘urgent’ item is put on their plate.”
Realization recommends using the flow-based project management. The method involves three simple steps:
Step 1. Reduce the number of open projects or work streams by 25 to 50 percent. Working on fewer projects or work streams is counterintuitive, but it works. Fewer projects/work streams mean fewer tasks, and therefore, less confusion about task-level priorities. Moreover, managers and experts can also be more responsive because they have fewer issues and questions to deal with at a time. Simply reducing the number of open projects/work streams by 25 to 50 percent can double task completion rates.
Step 2. Establish a clear rule for task-level priorities. For some projects, a simple rule (e.g., project priority equals task priority) is sufficient. Project priorities are clearly communicated to everyone in the organization and whenever there is a priority conflict, people work on the highest-priority project first. For complex projects, specialized software can help organizations
properly prioritize tasks.
Step 3. Don’t start a project without adequate preparation. Well begun is half done. If teams have everything (i.e., clear goals and the necessary inputs) in place before starting a project, they encounter fewer questions and issues in execution. The dependence on managers and experts is reduced and work gets done faster.
By implementing these three steps, organizations reclaim productivity that was previously wasted because of organizational multitasking. As a result, they will find that they will do more than simply finish projects on time – they will finish ahead of schedule.
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