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Multitask Master

In response to a followup on an entry about time management, FC Now reader Piers Young remarks on the productivity decline brought on by multitasking.

Young expands on the idea in the blog Monkeymagic. Considering some research released in 2001, Young looks at time loss caused by task switching.

Naval research Daniel McFarlane suggests several strategies for mitigating the mishaps of multitasking — and workflow interruptions:

  • Real-time negotiation Stan walks into my office and says, “Excuse me, I need to talk to you.” I have four possible responses to Stans proposal for entry into a joint activity: accept, accept with alteration, reject, or withdraw.
  • Mediation Sarah wants to interrupt the Chinese Commodities Office for information. She calls her secretary on the intercom. “Please call the Chinese Office and ask them for their current price on rice.”
  • Precoordination (explicit agreement) “I’ll meet you for lunch tomorrow at 12 o’clock outside of Tony’s restaurant.”
  • Precoordination (convention) “We’ll meet in this conference room at 1:30 pm the first Monday of every month.”

Awhile ago, Fast Company touched base with a handful of effective and efficient executives to learn their mutitasking tips and tactics.

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