Multitasking has gotten a bad rap recently—more than one study has shown it makes you less efficient and, well, stupider. (As someone once said, “Multitasking means screwing up several things at once.”)
And yet, many jobs seem to require multitasking skills. So what gives?
It could come down to the definition. “Humans don’t really multitask,” says Eyal Ophir, the primary researcher on Stanford’s multitasking study. “We task-switch. We just switch very quickly between tasks, and it feels like we’re multitasking.”
As such, being a master multitasker isn’t about talking on the phone, updating a spreadsheet and listening to music all at the same time—a sure recipe for sloppy work. It’s about being able to efficiently transition from project to project. And that hyper-organized form of time management is a prized asset in many industries.