When to prioritise and when to multi task

When to prioritise and when to multi task?

Posted on 9th Nov, 2015 | By Lorretta Tatham

We all know at least one person who prides themselves on being able to handle various tasks at the same time; but is multi-tasking really a good thing? While on the outset it’s an attractive quality to have, when combined with poor decision-making, stress or fatigue, it can lead to serious accidents. Balancing too many tasks and taking on too much is usually more of a hindrance than a help, which is why in today’s blog we’re offering our top safety advice on the topic.

The dangers of multi-tasking

When to prioritise and when to multi task

Area: Manual handling

Trying to carry too much at once is a surefire way to cause injury. Overloading is common in any industry or profession where keeping to strict time limits is essential, but if this leads to a worker getting hurt, time will in fact be lost – not used efficiently.

Area: Working at heights 

Working at a height is hazardous at the best of times and always requires your full concentration. Juggling multiple jobs at once, while working from access equipment, is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided at all times.

Area: Busy industrial settings

When faced with a long list of jobs that need completing, we often try to complete them all, finding a way to juggle them efficiently. However, the worst thing you can do is take on too much work and then try and rush through it all. Accidents will happen when your concentration is solely on the job and not your own safety. The risk of accidents will increase even further with fatigue and stress, common in these scenarios. What’s more, when multi-tasking, you’ll often take short cuts and will skip certain safety protocols to make the job align better with the other work you’re currently doing.

A recent Harvard Business Review post said that multitasking leads to as much as 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a drop in IQ. If fact, heavy multi-taskers may be sacrificing performance on the primary task to let in other sources of information. The solution? Do fewer things – better – by prioritising.

When to prioritise

When to prioritise and when to multi task plans

In the workplace you should always look to prioritise things, rather than multi-task – and only turn to the latter when really necessary. 

When faced with a huge list of jobs, make a list of everything that needs to be done and assess the value of each job – completing some tasks will be more important than others. It’s also important that you’re honest with both yourself and your employer. Be realistic about what you can do and fit in during the time period and share your thoughts – as well as your solutions and proposed plans – with your employer. Stating that your workload is impossible can come across quite negative, but offering a solution and reasoning shows that you’re a productive, forward-thinking individual that has given good thought to your work.

For more top health and safety advice, browse our safety training offerings here.

Has multi-tasking ever led to any accidents in your workplace? If so, share your story with us in the comments below. Alternatively you can tweet your story to @BrownsLadders

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