The Myth of Multitasking

In our upcoming October issue, Dr. Shari Frisinger discusses distractions, demands and difficult people. When it comes to distractions, Frisinger touches on "multitasking." She says, "Mentally shifting gears scatters your mind. You want to believe you can juggle your priorities; however, you know deep inside that multitasking is a myth. Giving in to demands splinters your energies, your focus, and your train of thought."

I coudn't agree more with her!

Dave Crenshaw, author of The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Donesays, “To say that you are an effective multitasker is the same as saying you are effective at doing things in a less effective way.”

Crenshaw says that multitasking could actually be hurting productivity. “Your brain is NOT able to handle multiple tasks at the same time,” he says.

The phrase that Crenshaw likes to use instead of multitasking is “switchtasking.” He says that what we are essentially doing when we think we are multitasking is switching back and forth between tasks. He adds that there is time lost between all those switches. So someone who is “multitasking” is essentially performing each task slower than if he or she were to concentrate on just one task before moving on to the next. “We think that we are doing multiple things at the same time, but we are really not,” says Crenshaw. “We end up having to retrace our steps and correct things, which takes a whole lot longer than if we just focused on them one at a time.” offers the following tips to help minimize distractions in the workplace:

  • If You Have a Door, Shut It. If you’re lucky enough to have a door to your office, close it when you’re trying to put your nose to the grindstone. If you don’t want to be rude, post a small sign informing folks that you’re on a deadline or an important call.
  • Budget Your Time. If you make a careful schedule that accounts for all of your time and tasks — free time, meetings, calls and quiet work time — you’ll be more likely to accomplish what you need to each day. Also, you’ll always know exactly where the day went and what went into it.
  • Put Down Your Mobile Device. Constant but unscheduled phone calls and text messages are a common culprit when it comes to efficiency busters. Shut down your device or check it every hour or so, rather than keeping it at the ready when you’re attempting to focus on a particular task.
  • Consider a Change of Scenery. When you’re under pressure to complete a project, you may want to take your show on the road if you can. Work from home or off site — anywhere you can truly devote yourself without the possibility of interruption. If working remotely isn’t possible, find a conference room or vacant office to squat in so you can get things done.
  • Stop Checking Your Email Incessantly. Today’s professionals have become slaves to checking their email constantly. Take control of your inbox and limit how often you check on and address emails to stay sane and focused on the job.

What are your thoughts on multitasking?

Thanks for reading, and we appreciate your feedback!


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