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In workflow management, multitasking is seen as a way of making multiple tasks, also known as processes, to be carried out parallel to each other rather than sequentially especially if they are using the same resources and are all required to be performed during the same period of time. Normally, these tasks share common processing resources (human inputs, time controlled inputs like targets etc) and are well encouraged in the overall business process.
Multitasking solves the problem by scheduling which task may be the one running at any given time, and when another waiting task gets a turn or when they need to run synchronously. This skill is actually a natural phenomenon that takes place in human behaviour without giving particular attention that it is actually happening. In recent studies, this is being discredited by using notions that the overall quality outcome of synchronized tasks falls below those done sequentially.
Multitaskers, who think they can successfully divide their attention between the program on their television set and the information on their computer screen proved to be driven to distraction by the two devices, according to a new study of media multitasking by Boston College researchers! Multitasking can reduce productivity by approximately 40% according to some researchers. It is believed that switching from one task to another makes it difficult to tune out distractions and can cause mental blocks that can slow down planned progress.
But from a workflow management point of view, the skill of multitasking can be developed into an asset if and when time happens to be a rare commodity and as a manager, one is required to meet specific deadlines of service delivery. The quality of the end product in workflow management is predetermined and built into the system and as such quality control is taken care of down the assembly or chain supply line. There are other technologies like concurrent engineering that has been brought to bear during service delivery and as such, instead of looking at multitasking as a negative in time management, it is in fact an asset when applied with all other supporting knowledge areas/bases available.
On an individual basis, multitasking can actually help in harnessing poorly utilized times in sequential scenarios when confronted with scanty time resources. It is not entirely true that multitasking is a negative in time management. Just like any technology or operations has its own negatives, it is understandable that poor quality of services or products can be a problem when multitasking is used extensively without applying other supporting inputs.
From previous research in the field of time management, human multitasking has been proved or discredited to be actually mythical as apparently the brain can only process one task at a time! Human beings are not computers according to Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowe though strongly contradicted by IBM Christine Rosen who believe that it is not right to equate the human brain to a computer!
With the inclusion of new research in human behaviour and advanced application of technology, it is now believed that it is not purely the fault of an individual when they find they are spending more time completing, say three tasks synchronously than if they did it sequentially! In an ideal world, we cannot afford to always act sequentially because then we would be going back to the medieval days when humans could only perform one task at a time due to lack of added technology, gadgets and technological inventions.
The field of Workflow management suggest that Instead of multitasking, why not employ other simpler ways of doing things like working smart, delegation, work share, collaboration, Concurrent engineering, workflow management or even more distinctly use Michael hammer’s business process reengineering that suggest that many times, we do not achieve our intended goals because the process are in fact intrinsically wrong and need scrapping and new ones radically redesigned! Although multitasking is so strongly discredited by researchers /psychologists as mythical, there is room for using its unique benefits of understanding that it is possible to do more than one task if there is careful original thought put into planning, allocating time accurately, having realistic goals and stocktaking inputs right at the beginning of the process. Technology has come to the aid of Multitasking!