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The Multitasking Myth

The Multitasking Myth

Raise your hand if you consider yourself to be a multitasker. Anyone? Most of us probably think we are multitaskers, adept at handling many tasks simultaneously with the general goal of accomplishing as much as possible in as little time as possible. We probably even believe it’s necessary to some extent for getting organized. But what if someone were to tell you that the very idea of multitasking doesn’t even exist? There’s no such thing!
 
43 Folders is “Merlin Mann’s family of web sites about stuff like personal productivity, life hacks, and simple ways to make your life a little better.” Mann recently posted the following quote from a comment: “Multitasking is the art of distracting yourself from two things you’d rather not be doing by doing them simultaneously.”
 
But Mann doesn’t believe multitasking is possible because you can’t really physically do several tasks at the same time; rather, some people are just good at switching gears and directing their attention to the next task in a small span of time. Listen to his 2-minute podcast on the site for more elaboration and let us know what you think in the comments. Is multitasking a myth?
 

Posted: 8/29/08
aliciak

I've even noticed that when I THINK I'm multitasking, one of the tasks is suffering. For instance, if I talk on the phone while organizing something, I'm not paying attention enough to either one.

LauraLee311

Yes--it's so nice to see other people are finally catching on to the idea that multitasking is not necessarily a good thing. I was starting to feel like a loser because I'm not particuarly good at multitasking. I can do it, but I prefer not to, and I much prefer devoting my full attention to one thing at a time.

As VBianchini mentioned, the Tim Ferriss podcast was so interesting and helpful. He really did have some great ideas for ways to work more efficiently. I'm still not sure I'm comfortable with the idea of a virtual assistant though ...

VictoriaB

That makes sense. I mean, you can only really do one thing at a time ... and I'm not talking about walking and chewing gum. I may think I'm checking email while I'm talking on the phone, but the truth is one of those things suffers and either I'm not really paying attention to the caller or I'm not really paying attention to what I'm reading.

I'm going to make an effort (once again) to try some of those things I learned in time management class and also some of those things Tim Ferriss is talking about in "Four Hour Work Week" and see if I can't get more done in less time with focus on not by multitasking.