Productivity and the Commissioning Professional

Multitasking: the enemy of productivity

Overwhelmed by constant interruptions?  Caught up in a ton of commitments and commissioning paperwork?

If you’re like me, it is easy to get to the end of the day – or week – and realize that very little has gotten done. Well, maybe a lot of things got accomplished, but not meaningful, productive things. The culprit? It just might be multitasking.

According to Entrepreneur magazine (March 2010), ”researchers at the University of Michigan found that productivity dropped as much as 40% when subjects tried to do two or more things at once.” That counts all sorts of interruptions, including phone calls, email and texting.

Interruptions create compound problems.  For example, the study also “discovered that sleeve-tugging peripheral tasks triggered twice the number of errors and jacked up levels of annoyance to anywhere between 36% and 106%. Interrupted test workers took 3% to 27% more time to complete the reading, counting or math problems.”

When I have a time-sensitive task to perform, I try really hard to block out the interruptions. While my Blackberry is a critical work tool, it often gets placed on mute when I am in the middle of working on reports and writing tests. I also restrict how frequently I check for messages and voice mails.

Sometimes a quick glance suffices for my Crackberry fix, and that’s fine as long as I don't return calls or answer emails until I take my next break.

But, alas, all’s not perfect yet. When I am doing commissioning field work, I still jump when my Blackberry barks. That probably explains why it sometimes seems to be taking twice as long to do half the work! But I’ll do better next week. Really! I promise.

Check out the full article “E-Mail is Making You Stupid” at