[This is a guest-post from Brian Kerr]
Everyone has seen job postings looking for great multitaskers. If you are below the age of 35, you will probably happily admit that you multitask better than most, and much better than those of your parents’ generation.
The problem is that you don’t. A study conducted by Stanford’s Professor Clifford Nass says otherwise. His study showed that people who multitask actually do things slower, think slower, and perform worse.
But more importantly, he found that those who claim to be “Great Multitaskers” actually performed worse when juggling tasks, and those that claimed to be “Bad Multitaskers” actually performed better.
A 2-Minute Exercise For Multitasking
If you think you are an exception, try the following 2 minute exercise.
Admitting the Problem: You are not good at multitasking
Get a stopwatch, or any watch with a second hand, or use the OnlineClock.net below (which amazingly gets 127,000 uniques per month — for an online clock!):
Step 1: See how long it takes you to write two simple strings of characters: “multitask” “123456789.”
Step 2: Once you have done that, time how many seconds it takes to write the same thing, but this time your job is to alternate between the two. Write ‘M’ then ‘1’. Write ‘U’ then ‘2’. Then write ‘L’ then ‘3’. So you will get “M1 U2 L3 T4 I5 T6 A7 S8 K9”
Which took longer for you? In my experience people can do all of step 1 in around 8-10 seconds.
For people to complete step 2, typically takes between 12-20 seconds. That’s over 40% longer.
When did you complete writing the word “Multitask” in Step 1?(3-5 seconds?) What about Step 2?
Now this demonstrates that even with the simplest of tasks, multitasking has a significant impact on how long something takes, and it extends the completion time of everything being multitasked between.
Even worse, if you did the exercise, I am sure you felt it was much harder and more stressful to do Step 2.
What Does Multitasking Have to Do With Landing a Job?
Multitasking while searching for a job is like cancer, it hurts a little a first and then, overtime, the small pain becomes something deadly.
I am going to go out on a limb, and say that right at this moment you have multiple web browser tabs open and you probably have your cell phone right next to you as you read this, and that the next time it buzzes you will stop what you are doing and check it.
Email, Facebook, instant messenger, iTunes, television… the list of distractions can go on and on.
Looking to get a job fast? Well, if something as simple as writing two words takes 40% longer from multitasking, imagine the impact on more complex things that require much more brain-power–like finding a job! If you reduce multitasking, you will be amazed at how much more you will get done.
Months of job searching will be accomplished in weeks, and weeks of job searching will get done in a few days once you are consistently devoting a solid chunk of time, uninterrupted, to job hunting.
Steps For Getting That Job Faster
Step 1: Realize the job search is a full-time job in itself. Set a time, everyday that is dedicated to job hunting.
Step 2: Turn off your cell phone, Facebook, Twitter & iTunes
Finding a job is your job, so turn off your cell phone, close the nonsense web browser tabs (especially gmail), close your iTunes, and truly spend that time looking at job postings, writing your resume, and applying for jobs.
When it comes time to send those emails, open gmail, send them, and then close it. Don’t be tempted by the ever-revolving door of new emails and gchat.
Step 3: That’s It. Stop multitasking and land that job.
Great post- loved the multi tasking test. While I’m not looking for a new job, I’ll apply the same approach to work life.