We’re all guilty of it. Even those of us that lecture others not to do it.
An example occurred recently when I was in the middle of answering several emails, whilst also talking to someone on the phone. (Cue Male multi-tasking jokes.)
Anyway, instead of sending a document on to my team for review, I inadvertently sent it to the wrong distribution list and sent it to 450 staff instead. You all know how well the Outlook “recall email” feature works right?
So instead of saving me time by working on multiple things at once, my multi-tasking cost me 2 days. For the next 48 hours, I received and responded to emails form confused people asking me why they had to review a project charter template.
This same scenario plays itself out in many other work facets. Do you have team members working on more than 1 project? Or more than 1 feature at a time? Is your organisation working on numerous initiatives at once instead of prioritising and completing one at a time?
There’s an often circulated graph from Weinberg that represents the loss in productivity to context switching.
Sometimes you're better off staying at home and not coming into the office...
Another one I like to use is this one from Rally. When they look at the underlying data from their hosted product, they noticed a significant increase in bugs when team members were working on more than 1 project. So whilst it seems faster, It’s actually costing you more in the long run.
Excuse me – I have to go re-boil the kettle.