Is multitasking damaging your productivity?

Executives believe that multitasking improves productivity, yet except for the most mindless work, it doesn’t actually help, many studies show. So, can you strike a healthy balance?

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If a survey of marketing and advertising executives by The Creative Group is to be believed, multitasking is great. More than half of the 500 executives surveyed said the practice somewhat or greatly improves productivity. Only about 16 percent said it hindered it.

When Ragan Communications CEO Mark Ragan asked a panel of women in PR why that field is dominated by women, they answered that they’re better multitaskers.

But what if multitasking isn’t all that useful? Productivity experts point to research that says it may actually be detrimental to effectively getting work done. It depends on how you define the term and what types of tasks you’re performing.

The problems

Studies (such as this one) show that multitasking “hampers creativity and increases error,” says Diane Gayeski, dean and professor of strategic communications at the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca University.

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