Multitasking is a reality in our lives. We check e-mail while we talk on the phone. We constantly juggle tasks, spreadsheets, documents and programs, and we do it all in a split second. Or do we?
We all talk on the phone while we throw a load of laundry in the washer, chop some vegetables or water our lawns. We all send a few emails, open a spreadsheet and crunch some numbers, then switch to writing a letter, a plan or other document. And we do it over and over again, every day of the week.
Whether or not our multitasked lives are running as well as we want has been of great interest to researchers. Psychologists and business experts have done numerous studies on whether or not we are more efficient while multitasking or less efficient. The answers may surprise you.
According to the American Psychological Association, all of the studies that looked at the subject found that our brains were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking. Even if it costs seconds or even tenths of a second per move, it quickly adds up when people habitually go between tasks or programs. In fact, research has found that people can lose up to 40% of their productive time to switching back and forth.
According to researchers, there are two executive control processes that come into play whenever we move between programs or tasks. The first is called “goal switching,” which is mentally saying “I want to do this instead of that.” The second is called “rule activation,” which is “I’m turning off the rules for this and am turning on the rules for that.” Anyone who has closed an email program and opened a spreadsheet knows that they have to impose a new set of rules for the spreadsheet than what they used for emails. This can slow you down until you are able to fully work in the new program.
One other challenge of multitasking is mentally bookmarking where you are in one task and remembering where you were on the other project. It may take a few seconds to bring yourself up to speed on where you left off. That time adds up very quickly.
This “lost” time−time that is wasted switching from one program to another−is the strongest argument for why an integrated, end-to-end e-procurement solution matters. The job of procurement is vital to an organization and losing up to 40% of the productive time of the people managing that function is too steep a cost. An integrated, end-to-end solution takes back that lost time. It allows people to work with one set of rules, one set of tools. The result is better efficiency and more time that can be spent on other, vital aspects of the job.
While a few seconds of lost efficiency doesn’t matter much when doing laundry or watering the lawn, it can make a big difference in our work lives, where the cost of lost productive time is too high. Moving to an end-to-end solution eliminates the task-switch time and gives it back so it can be used for other priorities.