Impossible? For meeting planners, probably so, but Sanjeev Gupta says it’s time to stop multitasking and time to start focusing more intently on fewer projects. Gupta is the CEO of Realization, a Silicon Valley-based firm that advises organizations on how to reduce multitasking by its employees, not increase it. The result, he argues, are organizations that are more productive. In a blog on Harvard Business Review’s website, hbr.org, he writes that output is produced most often by a collective team rather than a single individual, so when an individual divides his or her time between multiple tasks, colleagues are often delayed from advancing on a single project. Managers who multitask, he says, cause an even bigger problem as large-scale decisions sometimes take days because the manager is stretched so thin. Multitasking also creates the feeling that everything is of equal importance when that’s not always the case.
Gupta provides three tips to encourage individuals and organizations to put the kibosh on multitasking:
1. Reduce the number of open projects by 25 to 50 percent. Fewer projects means fewer tasks and, therefore, less confusion about task level priorities.
2. Don’t start on a project without adequate preparation. Well begun is half done, as the idiom goes.
3. Establish a clear rule for task-level priorities. Make each task that’s part of a larger project as important as finishing the project as a whole. Complex projects require clearly defined task priorities.