The scam of multitasking

For years, I fell for the scam of multitasking.
I thought I could get more done in less time, if I multitasked. A while back I started realizing the illusion that multitasking is. But I haven’t found a better explanation than that in the bestseller The One Thing.

So, can we do more than one thing at a time? Ofcourse we can. Like I’m listening to Alexa while writing this post. What I can’t do is Focus on more than one thing at a time. E.g., if you were to ask me what the lyrics were, I’d have to take my hand off the keyboard to think and respond. So I’m not actively listening to Alexa, as I thought, but hearing it in the background.

Before you ask – yes, I’m breathing! That’s taken care of by a different part of the brain; not the one we require for focus.

Can we pay attention to two tasks at a time? Ofcourse – we pay divided attention. Thats why, texting is the new drunken driving.

Modern Computers are meant to multitask, not modern humans. Even the circus juggler isn’t really juggling, though that maybe how it appears to us. Each ball is independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. One at a time. The modern worker juggles balls of various shapes and sizes – even the ones thrown in from outside 😉

Those who realize the cost of context switch, the inadvertant mistakes and accompanied stress with multitasking, will keep (only) one thing top of mind, on focus.

“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time”- Steve Uzzal

As the author says, if the modern worker loses one third of workday to distractions, imagine the cumulative loss to a career, to a lifetime. Even when our day job does not involve bypass surgery, our work and home deserves more than the piecemeal attention we mete out, in the name of multitasking.

Thoughts?

Image: In the foreground, the book “The One Thing”. In the background, kids solving a floor puzzle, one piece at a time.

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