Are You a Master PR Multitasker? Not so fast!

by PR Coach on August 15, 2012

PR needs to focus and multitasking can be perilous

Are you a master PR multitasker? Research suggests otherwise

It’s easy to buy into the idea that multitasking is a dream come true for busy, time-strapped PR professionals. But are you falling victim to the multitasking effectiveness myth?

We all do it. Instant messaging in the car at a stop light (not recommended BTW). Texting while reading on a commuter bus or train. Using our cell phone or tablet to look up the Internet Movie Database while watching TV programs in time-shifted “real-time.” Reading and replying to our Twitter stream while we wait for a meeting to start in the boardroom. Caught dallying. To the frustration of those behind us at the grocery store checkout.

According to an infographic from OnlineCollege.org, only a tiny 2% of us are truly good at multitasking. The other 98%? Not so much!

A couple more infographic facts show that trying to do more than one thing at a time actually causes a 40% drop in productivity:

  • employees using computers at work are distracted every 10.5 minutes
  • 2.1 hours per day or 546 hours annually are lost by employees to distractions
  • 62% of webpages opened by students in class are NOT related to the subject
  • 67% of us check email by smartphone on a date (not endearing), 45% in the movie theatre (rude!) and 33% in church (blasphemy or God’s will?).

And the coup de grace? Distractions from phone calls and e-mails lower your IQ by more than 10 points.

Not a pretty picture. So much for multitasking effectiveness and PR time management! I’m so turning off my cell phone and tablet… later.

Today, a TechCrunch review of QuicklyChat really got my attention among all the  research, writing, coaching, internet noise and social media distractions. As if we aren’t already multitasking to the limit, now comes word that we can video chat instantly, on-demand, using this new video calling app.

How QuicklyChat Works

Download the app to your computer and your co-workers’ computers. According to QuicklyChat, here’s how it works:

“To chat with your coworker, just double-click his name on your buddy list. To close or re-open the last chat, use the shortcut key Ctrl-Shift-1. If you’re in a chat, and would like to add another coworker in, double-clicking on that coworker will join them into the existing chat.

If your buddy is busy, you can set an alert to let you know when he’s available to chat.

Choose SmartStatus Settings from the QuicklyChat menu to edit your own settings for when you appear as busy vs. available.

When someone wants to talk to you, they appear in the corner of your screen.”

It’s slick, instant communication. The biggest problem I see is the potential for more distractions. By contrast, QuicklyChat believes it will enhance and strengthen communication and increase efficiency in the office or with remote groups according to TechCrunch:

“We think video is really the best way to communicate with anybody,” says co-founder James Harvey, “because you get more context than you do with IM. But Skype and things like that are too formal,” he adds. “It’s like having your phone ringing. You wouldn’t want to have your phone ringing every time someone asked you a 10-second question.”

It’s currently in beta and free to download to your desktop for now though it will launch as a freemium product in the future.

Oh great. Another always-available, always-on distraction. Or is it a valuable collaboration and communications asset?

QuicklyChat could become a powerful internal and external communications tool. It may also open a Pandora’s box of mythical proportions that breaks the productivity camel’s back if you’ll permit me to mix my metaphors.

My advice to young PR professionals as well as tech-savvy, early-adopter, older PR cats (ahem)? Don’t do it. Don’t get lured into the social media time suck and the shiny new technology tool trap.

Drinking and driving? Multitasking? Just say no.

Mom was right. Pay attention! Focus on what’s really important. Like that marketing plan or new business proposal due in the next two hours. That really important news release. Your timesheets. Or the client phone calls you’ve been avoiding.

The question to ask yourself is am I really, truly being efficient or am I caught up in the multitasking myth?

Meanwhile, I’ve really got to go back and check out QuicklyChat. All in the interests of efficiency of course. Catch me later if you can on cell, my blog, IM, Twitter, Scoop.it, Twylah, Tumblr, LinkedIn or Facebook.

I know I’m in that 2%, so there’s only room for just one more of you master multitaskers.

How ’bout you? Overwhelmed by so much social media or too much technology? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you have time.

One thing we can do to make you way more efficient is by sharing our 7500+ resources in the PR Library. No more chasing around the Internet, suffering from search exhaustion or getting the Google runaround.  And if you sign up for our blog, we’ll deliver it right to your inbox — efficiently.

Author: Jeff Domansky

Photo Credits: OnlineCollege.orgQuicklyChat