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Why you should resist the urge to multitask during Zoom meetings

We’ve all heard that multitasking is bad and switching between activities makes it harder to complete them. But let’s be honest—many of us multitask during Zoom meetings, especially as we enter the 10th month of working remotely and our Zoom fatigue has worsened. But checking email or making a grocery list can have a negative ripple effect you may not realize, says Dave Crenshaw, author of The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done.

“Switching between tasks can have four effects,” he says. “Things take longer. You are prone to making more mistakes. It increases stress levels. And you can damage relationships.”

When you don’t pay attention, you miss important information, and when you miss important information, you need to take the time to either ask the presenter to go back or follow up after the call. “Either way, you’re wasting both your time and everyone else’s,” Crenshaw says.

To reduce Zoom multitasking, organizers and attendees need to make some changes:

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ORGANIZER

Part of the problem is that meetings are scheduled for too much time, Crenshaw says. “Time abhors a vacuum and will fill up the space you give it,” he says. “When a meeting feels too long, you will find a way to fill that time. We are a YouTube generation, and we’ve been conditioned to look at a screen and get an answer in a handful of minutes. Then we schedule a 60-minute Zoom meeting.”

The responsibility is on the organizer to create a clear agenda and determine the shortest amount of time the meeting can take. This step can help prevent attendees from multitasking. Also make sure to include a buffer scheduled on both sides of a meeting. The Google Speedy Meeting setting automatically builds this in, or you can adjust your meeting time to leave a 5- or 10-minute buffer.

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