3.6 min
By: Joseph Bonifacio

The Hidden Costs to Multitasking

Do you find it easy to multitask? Or do you struggle with juggling different projects at the same time? Whether you find multitasking easy or not, there are possible costs that you may not see.

I was talking to someone on staff recently. She was accepting more roles in the organization that were out of her job description. I appreciated her for her willingness to serve, but asked her why she did this when she clearly had other tasks to accomplish.

The response: “It doesn’t take that much time anyway.”

Many of us have the same perspective. I know I use that reasoning a lot. Multitasking is fun and there’s the added rush whenever we do something new. But there are a lot of hidden costs that we don’t see.

  • Opportunity Cost – Defined as “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.” It may have only taken her an hour to do the side project, but that was one hour that could have been spent doing a number of other things – improving at her job, deepening relationships, praying, reading, etc. Instead it was spent doing a task that could have been done by others and was giving minimal growth.
  • Focus Cost – Shifting from one task to another, while energizing, costs us our focus. If you’ve ever tried to develop two messages at the same time, you know this feeling. If you find yourself opening dozens of tabs while browsing, without finishing your business on any one of them, you feel this too. The side project actually took more than one hour if you factor in the time lost changing tasks, reorienting yourself, and taking the energy to start again.
  • Momentum Cost – A series of broken activities will never be equal to one sustained activity in the same direction. Taking one hour for the side project wasn’t just costing that one hour. It cost how much more effective this person would have been at work if the work had been continuous, building up more and more momentum that would produce lasting growth and success.

As much as we love to multitask, we must be aware of its hidden costs. This is not to say you should not multitask. Just know that it will not require “just a little bit” of your time. You will need to consider the hidden costs, factor them in, and focus on the work you need to do, considering the time you have.

Application Suggestion: You can close this window now and get back to working on whatever you’re supposed to be doing.

About the author
Joseph Bonifacio

Joseph Bonifacio is the director of Every Nation Campus Philippines and a lead pastor with Victory Katipunan. When he isn’t working in the campus or doing life with students, you can find him at home or in an adventure with his wife, Carla, and their two sons, Philip and Manu. Joe, as most people call him, admits that his hair (or lack of) never distracts him, but that the thought of a chocolate chip cookie almost always does.

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