Next time, just observe the woman of the house while doing her kitchen chores. Her routine consists of washing, chopping, stirring, cooking and many other things. She chops while stirring, and cooks while washing the veggies. She might even be reading a book, talking on the phone, watching TV or humming songs while cooking. Ever wondered how she manages it?
What is multitasking?
Multitasking is defined as the ability to perform more than one task at any given point in time with the given resources.
Given the definition, I would like to think of multitasking as the ability to perform more than one task to the fullest potential while putting idle time to maximum use.
My friend Pallavi says that she has to maximize every minute of the day if she wants 8 hours of sleep. Now that is the motivating factor for her. My friend, Ravi on the other hand, shuts down his ears while watching TV. He does not answer unless the remote is used to turn off the TV.
Multitasking – Origin
Multitasking is a term that has gained popularity with reference to the computers and is a term that is gaining more and more importance in today’s world. So, what is computer multitasking?
Computer multitasking is a term that means that multiple processes use one processing unit or CPU to perform different tasks scheduled. In this system, different tasks are scheduled and are performed while using the CPU’s idle time.
So, if you think that multitasking means performing ten different tasks at the same time, think again!
The science of multitasking
Scientifically, multitasking is all about the use of a particular part of the brain. Human mind, as per science is not capable of handling more than two complex, related activities at the same time.
As per studies, the part of the brain capable of multitasking, divides the brain into two halves. Both the halves are capable of handling tasks independently and hence, are capable of handling only two tasks at a time.
The art of multitasking
While it is true that trying to do many things at one time only weakens your brain, it is also true that you can put time to good use by utilizing the idle time.
My friend always used to come to my desk and check the number of windows open. I used to use the spooling time to prepare and analyze reports. Similarly, you might have noticed the woman of the house chopping vegetables while stirring dal left on the stove. Or you might have drafted an e-mail while waiting for your turn on a call.
Most managers like to think that multitasking is about doing multiple things at a time. That in fact, only kills the productivity and leads to brain drain or lesser work quality.
Tips to multitasking
There are many ways to utilize idle time. The very definition of idle time differs for different people. I consider TV time as a waste, while it might be relaxation time for someone else. Hence, your own judgment can actually help you in deciding what time to utilize and what is idle time. However, here are a few tips:
Tip #1: Put travel time to good use
Many of us travel long distances to our place of work. If you choose to use public transport instead of driving down, you will find time to sort your mailbox on the way to work or catch up with an old friend whom you always wanted to catch up with but could not because of lack of time.
Tip #2: Use of system time
I always noticed that there is always some downtime in the system. Either on account of reports spooling, or on account of programs running. You can use this time to take that coffee break instead of waiting then and taking that break when all resources are available.
Tip #3: Waiting time
In India, you always come across queues. Be it for booking a ticket or while waiting at the doctor. Use this time to do some social networking and you will never complain about not finding time for friends.
Tip #4: Cut down on TV time
Ration TV time rather than impatiently flipping channels. You will find time for family or hobby or even self-development.
The next time you think that multitasking is gender specific or you think that you need ten hands to multitask, just remind yourself that multitasking is all about putting your idle time to good use rather than taxing your already over-loaded brain! Increase your productivity with better use of time.