Multitasking: Why Are You On The Phone?

If you are like my prior self, you are one of those workers that requests for a call-in number so that you can do something else while you are on the phone.

But why do we do this?

I did it because:

  • Everyone was doing it.
  • There was too much work to do.
  • I was told I needed to be in the meeting.
  • To say I attended (check the box).
  • It made me look busy and important (busy = accomplishment?)
  • It was fun to test the range of the wireless headset.
  • I could “pay attention” only to the items pertaining to me.

Today I’m proposing a different approach: find your purpose.

I now know none of the reasons above are good enough to warrant the need to “fake” attending the meeting when I’m not really paying attention. Since when did “sorry I wasn’t listening” or “Sorry, could you repeat that I was looking at something else” become common courtesy?

Let’s get real. Multitasking is impossible. The brain has to disconnect from one task in order to focus on another. At best, we are doing 2 things at 30%-50% capacity.

What do I mean by finding your purpose? Find out:

  • Why are you needed in the meeting?
  • What’s your role in the meeting?
  • What do you know that no one else knows in the meeting?
  • Do the outcomes of the meeting affect the work you are doing right now?

If the meeting owner can’t give you an answer to these questions, don’t go to the meeting or send someone to take notes for you. After all, not paying attention is equivalent to not going.

Maybe you don’t want to skip the meeting, then I give you these ideas to better yourself.

  • Give yourself a role in the meeting.
    • Facilitate, take notes, listen to tones and dynamics of the interactions. In short, learn from the experience.
  • Identify why you think the meeting isn’t important and share it with your manager.
  • Have someone else from your team or peer take notes for you to read later.
  • Commit to reading the notes.

I would like to hear/read your thoughts.



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