As I sat to write this blog, I was interrupted three times. What normally takes me thirty minutes, took seventy-five. Here is why.

According to an HBR article, you can’t multitask, so stop trying, it takes an average of 15 minutes to reorientate yourself to a primary task after a distraction, during which time efficiency can drop by as much as 40 per cent!

Three times, my train of thought was interrupted. Three times, I was taken away from my creative flow. And three times, I changed my focus. This cost me an extra forty-five minutes. What I have not highlighted is the impact those three interruptions had on the people who interrupted me… let’s just say they didn’t get the warmest greeting: I’m not sure I was 100 per cent listening to them and I am certain there was not a lot of eye contact.

When you choose to multitask (when it comes to humans), you are serving them unconsciously. The human brain can only process one conscious thought at a time. People deserve your undivided attention when you serve them – colleagues and customers.
When you have an important task to do and you want uninterrupted time, set boundaries, tell people you are not to be disturbed for an hour, and close your office door. Or go somewhere no one will find you (a café), turn off your phone notifications or switch to flight mode for a while. Get your important work done—uninterrupted.

Multitasking is mythical. People who multitask are busy. People who don’t multitask are productive. No one wins. Multitasking is a bad habit that damages relationships. Pay attention to the choices you make in a day. Be conscious of multitasking and don’t pass the effects of your busyness on to others.

Sign up to receive fortnightly service insights.