One email respondent rightly pointed out that 'multitasking does not actually exist, unless one task is so easy that you do it automatically (breathing, driving on the highway, eating, etc...)'.
Still it is worthwhile for individuals to consider the disruptive effects of having several tasks on the go at the same time. Deferring the start of a task may not delay it (tasks B and C in yesterday's example).
For schools and other organisations multi-tasking is certainly possible - numerous tasks can be undertaken simultaneously by the school. In fact this is one of the main reasons for organising any organisation: to undertake several task at the same time.
In order to be more efficient and effective the school needs to minimise the disruptive effects of multi-tasking, especially the disruptive effects of development. This can be achieved by minimising Change while maximising Improvement.
The alternative to multi-tasking is Multiple Outcomes
One way to do this is embed ongoing development into the everyday tasks being undertaken. This means achieving multiple outcomes from each task:
- complete each task well
- complete the task at the first attempt
- improve the process
- make it easier
- reduce the likelihood of errors/oversights (and rework)
- stop doing unnecessary steps
- get the timing right
- get the right people doing each step
- find other useful applications for the process
- learn from doing
- capture the learning (e.g., document major processes - example)
- embed the above into the school's culture (e.g., job description)