Can You Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time? – Michael Dennis, CBF

Multitasking or Managing Priorities?
Multitasking or Managing Priorities?

If your answer is Yes, do you consider this to be multitasking?  I believe multitasking is impossible.  If you disagree, try this simple experiment:  Can you: Add 8+13+9 and spell the name of your first pet at the same time.  If you can, you are capable of multitasking.  Here is a work example:  Can you type a final demand notice and give your full attention to a difficult negotiation with a seriously delinquent debtor at the same time?

What most or all of us do every day is not multitasking.  It involves managing multiple, competing priorities.  In my opinion, the keys to doing so successfully include:

  • Keeping track of the tasks you are required to perform/complete
  • Prioritizing these tasks
  • Spending the appropriate amount of time on each task
  • Delegating work whenever possible
  • Making sure nothing gets missed
  • Finding appropriate ways to cope with the stress associated with managing multiple priorities
  • Helping subordinates and co-workers understand how to prioritize this type of work
  • Documenting your successes, and learning from your failures

The first step is often overlooked, but it is the most important step for any member of the credit team. The first step is to make certain that you and you manager agree what you top priorities are.

Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM
Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM

Once this is resolved, your goal of managing multiple, competing priorities will be easier.

If you establish your own priorities, please consider this question:  How do you know you are right?

So, do you multitask or do you handle multiple priorities?

Michael Dennis’ Covering Credit Commentary. Michael’s website is

The opinions presented are those of the author.  The opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of CMA, or their Officers and Directors.  Readers are encouraged to evaluate any suggestions or recommendations made, and accept and adopt only those concepts that make sense to them.

6 Replies to “Can You Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time? – Michael Dennis, CBF”

  1. Hi Michael,
    Another great thought provoking article this week. I agree with your comments.
    I am definately a priorities manager! I learn along time ago, multitasking never works! The hurrier you go the behinder you get! LOL!
    My manager and I discuss the department goals and then I prioritze my workload accordingly. Works like a charm!
    I love the list you wrote above as well. Spot on!
    Take care and thanks for article!

  2. Hi Michael,

    Agreed! Multi-tasking does not lead to good results; it is like pressing too many keys to speed-up a computer processing.

    Result: Frozen computer. Multi-tasking leads to stress and burnout.

    On the other hand, learning how to prioritize, creating an organizational system, and following a systematic approach to execution of prioritized tasks leads to efficiencies and greater effectiveness.

  3. Depends on how you define multi-tasking, since not everything requires the same amount of attention while being performed simultaneously. I can 10key and talk at the same time, I can listen and type what my customer is saying at the same time. (pat head & rub tummy) Repetitive tasks are often easy to do while simultaneously doing other things that require focus. Can you sing with the radio and still notice the traffic slowing in front of you?

    Be careful not to judge everyone based on the way your own brain functions. It is well documented that male and female brain circuitry tends to function differently, notice I said tend to, not all do or to the same degree. (ps I’m jealous of those empty boxes:)

  4. I still have met no one who can add 3 numbers together and spell the name of their first pet at the same time

  5. If you define multi-tasking as thinking 2 thoughts at exactly the same fraction of a second then you are definitely right.

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