Multitasking has gotten a bad rap recently—more than one study has shown it makes you less efficient
and, well, stupider. (As someone once said, "Multitasking means screwing up several things at once.")
And yet, many jobs seem to require multitasking skills. So what gives?
It could come down to the definition. "Humans don't really multitask," says Eyal Ophir
, the primary researcher on Stanford’s multitasking study. "We task-switch. We just switch very quickly between tasks, and it feels like we're multitasking."
As such, being a master multitasker isn’t about talking on the phone, updating a spreadsheet and listening to music all at the same time—a sure recipe for sloppy work. It’s about being able to efficiently transition from project to project.
And that hyper-organized form of time management is a prized asset in many industries.
If you enjoy juggling many balls and switching between multiple projects in the blink of an eye (no hours of deep contemplation for you), check out these top seven career options:
Whether you’re coordinating a custom-designed wedding or planning a major industry conference, event planners keep track of a million little details. From the color of the napkins to the size of the clean-up crew, you’ve got your eye on every project.
$27,000 – $77,000
44 percent (much faster than average)
As a CLO, you monitor what’s being said about your company by keeping your ear to the digital ground. And because there’s a lot of ground to cover—including social media sites, web forums, blog comments and online reviews—you must be skilled at deftly jumping between platforms. Your fast-paced responses help fix complaints, issues and misinformation.
$31,000 – $95,000
21 percent (faster than average)
Admin assistants are organizational powerhouses. To keep your company running smoothly, you must efficiently handle the myriad of administrative tasks that come flying across your desk.
$29,000 – $67,000
12 percent (about average)
TV producers must be comfortable having their hands in a whole lot of pies. Over the course of a single project, you may be involved with a TV show’s initial development, casting, shooting, wrapping and everything in between.
11 percent (about average)
To keep construction projects on schedule and under budget, you must wear many hats (and not just the big plastic ones). Whether you’re directing teams on the ground, presenting plans at a city council meeting or juggling supply logistics, you’re adept at shifting between roles to get your project done.
$50,000 – $150,000
17 percent (about average)
Keeping a classroom full of seventh graders engaged with algebra is a multitasking achievement all on its own—and that’s just the beginning for middle school teachers. Seamlessly switching between lessons, parent/teacher meetings and administrative duties means you have a full slate of tasks.
$35,000 – $81,000
17 percent (about average)
Caring for multiple patients, speaking with families and filling out paperwork keeps nurses constantly moving from role to role—caregiver, educator, administrator and team player.
$44,000 – $95,000
26 percent (faster than average)
Beyond this bunch, many non-traditional jobs—like freelancers, slashers and startup employees—also rely heavily on multitasking skills.
Do you have a job that’s not on this list that requires a lot of multitasking?
Salary and job outlook data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a site that helps people discover careers they’ll love and find the education to make it happen. For more career advice, check out Choosing a Career: 7 Steps for When You Have No Idea What You Want To Do.