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Can You Teach Multi-Tasking?

Date: 2011-06-20
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Once Upon A Time I believed that as a trainer I could not teach someone “multi-tasking.”  I believed that you were either born with this skill or you weren’t.  I believed this because I had trainees who couldn't talk and type at the same time, which was the least of what they would need to learn in the time we had to work with them. 

When you believe something to be true, you don't look for answers as you don't have a problem - you have a reality or a fact. 

FACT: You Can't Teach Multi Tasking.

Facts don't change, we change

As a college 9-1-1 educator, the college was of the opinion I was hired  to teach people to do the work of 9-1-1 - including multi-tasking. Go figure.  They somehow didn't want me to kick students out in cold the first week.

So now I had a former fact turned problem.  The new fact = I must teach Multi-Tasking.

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. Einstein.

NEW FACT: You Can teach multi tasking. 

The sub-facts:

  • Given enough time
  • The setting
  • A trainer who believes me and a person with the propensity to learn this. 

However, we often don't have the structure, system, time, faith or resources to allow the person who 'could' learn to learn, we simply dismissed them because we believed what we believed.

Once you have let go of the belief, you can see the "common sense" of why you can indeed teach someone to improve their multi tasking.

There are certain individual TASKS involved in the MULTIs you are asking the person to perform.  Each of those tasks must be at the level they can smoothly integrate into the others involved in the MULTIs needed. You begin step by step, one task learned, performed, evaluated and achieved at a time. 

Typing, first and foremost! Under 40wpm there is little hope the trainee can integrate CAD-radio-phones-conversations without confusion and distraction.

Another unchallenged fact may be that socially distancing new hires is a good idea.  BAD idea.   For more in this, see the FREE Power Point on Adult Learning Concepts on our web site.  

For more details, see Sue's powerpoint presentation, available for purchase, on teaching Multi-tasking in the Professional Pride Exceptional Trainer Series.  

(from there, you can preview the slides in PDF format).

Sue Pivetta is president of Professional Pride, Inc.   She has worked in emergency communications since 1989 as a college instructor, consultant, workshop leader and author.   She teaches adult learning through her book and workshop The Exceptional Trainer.  Contact Sue through her website



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