If you ever wondered why it was such the case, why is multitasking bad? Over the years, multitasking was a common thing to do. But these days with electronics and the internet, it’s become an issue for people who are easily distracted. Multitasking was not such a big deal prior to the internet era. But now, it’s had a negative impact on society in general. That will be the subject of this book review on the negative impacts of multitasking.
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The Myth of Multitasking
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 by 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
Switchtasking (Active & Passive), Not Multitasking
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:
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.
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 is not as effective
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.
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 of minutes or so.
Schedule recurring meetings
One of the biggest obstacles in the workplace is people aren’t 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 to 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
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.
Other things you can do for your team
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, increase employee productivity, and of course, bring in more clients and revenue down the road.
These are the long-term impacts that business owners and CEOs 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 works best for them, they should stick with it.
In summary, multitasking is no longer useful and is 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:
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.
Your Turn: Do you multitasking often?
I would like to hear your thoughts on multitasking. Do you find yourself multitasking without realizing it? Or are you someone who stays away from multitasking altogether? Were you familiar with switchtasking before reading this post?
Feel free to leave your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your thoughts, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.
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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. 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 enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.
4 thoughts on “The Myth Of Multitasking Review: Why Is Multitasking Bad?”
Hi Eric! You are on the point here! I have recently noticed for last year or two that my biggest flaw for achieving something great is multitasking. I start so many new things all the time and try to do 10 things at the same time. It will lead for nothing… Those 10 things get done by 10%. I have recently noticed that I should concentrate on one thing 100% and get that one thing done by 100%. I think I should read the book…
When people start new things at the same time, it’s likely they won’t be successful in staying consistent. Some people can do it, but most people fall short of achieving that multitasking concept.
I understand why multitasking has been a major flaw for you- I know it was (and still is) a struggle for me sometimes. But I’ve distanced myself away from the multitasking meaning.
You’re right to point out that you’ll get less done if you try to multitask. It reiterates my point that it slows you down more often than gets things done faster.
Focusing on one thing at a time can be just as effective if you make an effort at it. Crenshaw’s book stresses that it’s crucial to work better in that approach.
If you’re interested in the book, I encourage you to read it and get a better understanding of what multitasking really is.
Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts- it’s much appreciated.
I used to believe Multi-Tasking is a skill. Some people are very good at managing but the majority are not.
It would be great to add some facts related to health. Although from childhood we have been told not to Multi-Task and focus on one thing. But in today’s work, it can be done if well managed.
For years, many people would consider multitasking to be a worthy skill. Before the internet age, that may have been widely accepted in society.
Fast forward to today, that’s becoming less of the case. Many people are distracted by electronics and social media, so it’s not easy. At least for me, I’m not the best at multitasking when I should be performing my best.
That’s great to consider health-related information. I will look into it and see if I can include it when I revise this post.
Yes, I understand that multitasking has been the way to go since childhood. It’s something that I think is expected of us today.
Unfortunately, that appears not to be the case in my opinion. Crenshaw’s book explains that well and makes a good case against multitasking.
Your thoughts are interesting and well-worth understanding more about this topic. Thank you very much for sharing- they’re greatly appreciated.