THE MYTH OF MULTITASKING REVIEW (Dave Crenshaw)

In the era of technology and social media, many people buy the myth of multitasking because it sounds very convenient. It’s convenient if we want to get more done doing a bunch of tasks all at once.

You’re in the middle of working on a project due the next day. At the same time, you have multiple browsers open on your computer while your phone notifications are going off. To top that off, you have a colleague who stops by to chat- you decide to talk and type on your computer.

Or even worst, you chat with your colleague, working on your computer with one hand and texting on your phone with the other side. Does this sound efficient?

The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done

Not only are you working on a bunch of tasks all at once, but you are working on a more critical job while tackling smaller projects. These are some questions addressed in Dave Crenshaw’s book, The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done. This book breaks down the false belief of multitasking as a neat way to get more things done.

In this article, I will discuss four main takeaways from the book and wrap up with showing you an example I tried out to see if multitasking works or not. The four points include:

1.) Switchtasking, Not Multitasking

2.) Switchtasking Not Effective

3.) Scheduling Recurring Meetings

4.) Setting A Model To Employees Over Forcing Change

The Myth of Multitasking:

Switchtasking (Active & Passive), Not Multitasking

The Myth Of Multitasking- 1

Crenshaw brings up the idea of multitasking as a traditional approach in the past, but times have changed in the era of technology and social media. Whether they are smartphones, tablets, or going on social media sites, these serve as huge distractions.

It makes it more challenging to get more done in less time. Moreover, multitasking is a lie, and Crenshaw says that this is more known as switchtasking. Switchtasking is no better; it is still inefficient and an inadequate way of getting more things done. There are two types of switchtasking:

Active Switchtasking

This type of task takes place in a situation you create yourself. A typical example of this would be talking on the phone while checking your email.

Passive Switchtasking

This type of task takes place in situations created by something or someone else. For instance, you are working on a project with the deadline approaching, only find yourself interrupted by a colleague who stops by and wants to chit-chat with you.

Switchtasking Not As Effective

The Myth Of Multitasking- 2

Switchtasking may be necessary for some jobs, but overall it is not sufficient for increasing productivity. Crenshaw gives an example of a CEO of a local retail company. The CEO usually faces interruptions every hour each day, so it’s become a regular thing for her to encounter. When a colleague stops by, she types on the computer while talking to her at the same time.

However, if the CEO asks questions requiring more thoughtful responses, she may have to stop what she is doing to think over the items carefully. That may not seem like a big deal, but once she returns to her task, it’ll take a few minutes to regain the focus she had earlier. So she lost time, even if it was a couple minutes or so.

Schedule Recurring Meetings

The Myth Of Multitasking- 3

One of the biggest obstacles in the workplace is people aren’t so sure when is the best time to chat with somebody else. One solution Crenshaw suggests is to schedule recurring meetings with those you need to meet regularly. By scheduling these meetings, you will get more uninterrupted time to get your most important work done.

On another point, it’s good to let people know what times of the day you are available to speak with them. For example, some managers will post office hours at their desks, indicating those hours when they are free. Also, it’s useful to set up your voicemail and email messaging systems in a similar approach as well.

So, if you have people who reach you via phone throughout the day, you can state in your voicemail what times of the day you check messages. The same guideline applies for email- let others know when you look over and respond to an email so that they can get an idea when you respond to their emails.

Be A Model To Your Employees

The Myth Of Multitasking- 4

Crenshaw talks about how you can schedule a meeting, letting everyone know to stop switchtasking moving forward. Instead, use yourself as a model to implement a new type of system at your company.

Your example shows to your employees that focusing on one task is much more effective. From there, you can explain to employees how inefficient switchtasking can be and how it takes more time away from your priorities.

Additionally, Crenshaw discusses how establishing a personal system can create meaningful change in your company. Not only can it change the culture, but it will make your business more efficient, an increase in employee productivity, and of course, bring in more clients and revenue down the road.

These are the long term impacts that business owners and CEO aim to achieve in growing their companies. Now your model doesn’t have to be followed by your employees; however, it can serve as a foundation for others to set up their models. Everyone doesn’t need to act the same way, but whatever model they practice and work best for them, they should stick with it.

Wrap-Up

In summary, multitasking is no longer useful and considered a thing of the past. It may have worked before. Still, in the advent of the digital era, multitasking is irrelevant, with more distractions present in the 21st century. As Crenshaw mentioned, a common practice today is known as switchtasking- going back and forth in completing tasks at once. Multitasking or switchtasking, both terms sound similar.

One final point from the book: I did an example to determine how productive multitasking is. So I wrote down the following sentence: “Multitasking Drains Time.” So I wrote it out, beginning with each letter followed by a number afterward. From what I wrote down, this took me much longer to do instead of writing just the sentence alone.

Here’s a look:

Note 1

Writing this out took me much longer than I thought! Doing this task is one example of why multitasking isn’t practical. Try doing the same thing, and see what you think.

If you liked this post, please comment below and share it with someone else.

 

Professional

Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “THE MYTH OF MULTITASKING REVIEW (Dave Crenshaw)”

  1. This information will be helpful to me in the future as I am setting out in this new business venture. I’ve looked into the problem of multitasking but this spells it out way better than I could have thought. Very great work on this sir and will remember in the future.

    Thank you
    Douglas

    Reply
    • No problem, Douglas. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed reading this review.

      Yes, it’s not easy to avoid multitasking at times. No wonder why people tend to forget about it when they have so many things to do on their plate. Even I’ve been in that spot before, so it’s not easy.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts- much appreciated!

      Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing this information. I always though multi-tasking was the way to go but I can see with your exercise of writing the the sentence, the multi-taking actually drains productivity. Concise and informative.

    Reply
    • For sure, Elizabeth. You’re the only one who thinks that way about multi-tasking.

      I’m glad that exercise I did helped you out. It gives you a better picture of what multi-tasking really looks like. It can slow you down, right? What a difference it makes!

      Thanks for sharing your input- much appreciated!

      Reply
  3. Hi,
    Thanks for this article, I am just discovering for myself that multi tasking doesn’t really work any more.

    I work from home on my laptop and the opportunities for multi tasking once my computer is open are endless.

    The only way to get any real work done is to focus on one task and that alone.

    I don’t have meetings to schedule, but I’ve taken your advice and informed the people around me of the time I can be spoken to, and when I’m working and unavailable.

    I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before!

    Thanks again,

    Judy

    I don

    Reply
  4. Hi, this was a great article to read. I really like that you included the visual example at the end of you multitasking. I’ve been aware for a while that multitasking is a myth and that when someone says they’re good at multitasking what they really mean is they’re good at transitioning quickly between two things, however I didn’t know until I read this that it is called switchtasking, fascinating! I like the YouTube video you included at the end as well, nice touch. Very thorough and visually engaging!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Natalie. I learned quite a bit about reading Crenshaw’s book, such as identifying the term “switchtasking”. Glad you liked watching the video, I plan on doing more videos when I write product reviews.

      Reply
  5. I agree, multitasking is not longer a useful strategy! In my own experience, trying to work on several tasks at once simply was not a good idea. It either resulted in very little progress being made, or the tasks being completed to a very poor standard. It was much better for the quality of my work, as well as my peace of mind that I stopped multitasking and simply focused on doing one task at a time, and doing it well.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Shell. I can tell you were able to understand the importance of not multitasking.

      As I’ve mentioned before, it may sound convenient and help save time. But you end up making little progress if you decide to go the multi-tasking route for sure, and the quality of your work will likely go down. It’s great to hear you’re completing tasks one step at a time and going from there.

      Thanks again for sharing your input- much appreciated!

      Reply
  6. Hi,

    Thanks so very much for this important article!

    I have been thinking a lot about the issues you discuss in the article, and you have helped me by confirming my suspicions or viewpoint. Because modern people tend to see multitasking as hip and happening, and yet I feel it is inefficient, dangerous, and sometimes unethical to practice!

    How many times do we see people in professional meetings and yet from time to time typing messages on social media platforms? You do say that, “Still, in the advent of the digital era, multitasking is irrelevant, with more distractions present in the 21st century.” But these distractions can really be avoided, by letting the people who text the professionals at work in the morning hours for example, to know what times the professional is absolutely unavailable.

    When working on anything, there comes that point where you have so much got into rhythm, that you are basically flying! Allowing oneself to be distracted in the name of multi-tasking is not elegant!

    And when one day, multi-tasking causes an accident because of loss of concentration, the damage could cost millions, and take years to reverse, when one was trying to save but a few minutes!

    Reply
    • Of course, Teboho. I’m glad to know you liked reading this post.

      You make some excellent points about multitasking! I’m not sure about the part on being unethical, but there are good cases to be made on that. 

      Unfortunately, people practice multitasking in the digital age (such as right now) hasn’t made things better for some people. Hopefully, those patterns can change where they’re doing less multitasking (and more singletasking)!

      Again, those were excellent points you made that I couldn’t agree with you more on. Thank you so much for sharing- much appreciated!

      Reply
  7. I always think that multitasking gets more things done. I multitask very often, trying to complete many things within a certain time.

    After reading your article, I might be doing the wrong thing all the while. I have to test it out myself.

    Thank you for the review. I like it and it is very useful.

    Reply
    • No problem, Christine. It’s good to know you found this article useful.

      Yes, you’re not the only one who use to think about multitasking. I use to be one of those people myself, and it’s cost me a lot of time and concentration. If I had known the negative effects of it back then, I might be more organized than I am at the moment. 

      I hope that helps and you look into singletasking. I’ve found it helpful and saves me more time these days.

      Thanks for sharing your input- much appreciated!

      Reply
  8. I know that finding a good article does not come by so easily so i must commend your effort in creating such a beautiful website and writing an article to help others with useful information like this,Multitasking, in an operating system, is allowing a user to perform more than one computer task (such as the operation of an application program) at a time. The operating system is able to keep track of where you are in these tasks and go from one to the other without losing information.MultiTasking can be of help in so many ways but i will list a few :
    Saves time – Multitasking saves you time when there are tasks you can complete simultaneously. …
    Saves money – Multitasking saves a lot of money in the workplace. …
    Increases productivity – Multitasking can increase productivity in both the workplace and at home.
            Here are a few cons of multi tasking.Multitasking doesn’t segregate tasks based on priority or significance. It enables a misconception that a person can get a task done anytime and anyway,This sows procrastination.Multitasking is also distracting. While a person is focused on multiple tasks at hand, she or he is distracted from everything else. This distraction can become chronic. The person may not be able to focus on anything else. Simple or singular tasks may not draw enough focus and one may be drawn to minor tasks that are repetitive and what can be automated or done swiftly without much brain work.
    in conclusion i prefer one to be switching than to be multi tasking.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Wilson. 

      You make some phenomenal points about multitasking. I have to admit, you probably went more in-depth about the topic than I did in this post! But those are crucial points to keep in mind. Multitasking does more harm than good in the long run. If people don’t understand it sooner than later, they’ll lose out more time than they anticipated. 

      So your points are relatable- we all should keep those in mind. Also, I agree with your point on switching than multi-tasking. It’s my personal preference and much easier to do- you’ll get more done as well.

      Other than that, thanks again for sharing your valuable input. I think my readers will greatly appreciate what you had to offer, as I did. Again, much appreciated!

      Reply

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