multitasking-is-a-lie

If you really think about it, how can you focus 100% on more than one thing at a time? You can’t! Yet, I know people who pride themselves on being the greatest multitaskers ever. Really? 

Think about it: some people can’t even walk and chew gum at the same time! LOL

One of my favorite quotes is:

Multitasking: A nice way to say that you’re doing many different things at the same time…that means you’re doing many different things half-a$$ed.  —UrbanDictionary.com

What that means is those “great multitaskers” are excellent at filling their time with unfocused activities and taking longer to get them done. 

For instance, try to check your email, write an article, make breakfast, wash your car, return a phone call, bathe your kids, and STILL remain sane all at the same time. OR try to workout, talk on the phone, and babysit all at the same time. Ha!

Here’s what happens – something usually ends up falling through the cracks. Maybe you burn your breakfast a little, forget to spell check that article or don’t answer all the questions in that email from your coworker. Or maybe you don’t reach your full cardio maximum output because you’re saving oxygen to talk. Neither of these outcomes are ideal.

Believe me, I see this happening more often than not.

What Grinds My Gears About Multitasking

Here’s what really grinds my gears about people claiming to be great multitaskers: When I’m on a group call and one person is talking and calls on another person, what do they inevitably say??

“I’m sorry, I was multitasking. Can you repeat the question?”

Again, really? Multitasking in that sense doesn’t work. Your focus is not 100% on one given task at a time.

Caveat: Before you start leaving ugly comments, I’m not talking about simple tasking options like sitting at Valvoline getting an oil change and working on something while you wait. That doesn’t count because you’re not doing the actual oil change. Do you get my drift?

Fearsome Focus: The Better Alternative to Multitasking

So what should you do instead? I vote for the simpler method: focusing fearsomely on one task at a time. Doing this allows you to get done with all your tasks faster and better than if you tried to multitask.

Here’s a quick, simple process to help you focus on getting tasks done faster:

  • Take one task and commit to doing it first.
  • Use either a 45/15 or 50/10 process to working on it. (This means you use 45 or 50 minutes to work on the task and take a 15 or 10 minute break; use a timer if you must).
  • Eliminate distractions and stop interruptions as they happen while performing tasks (This is where I have to turn off Tweetdeck notifications while I’m writing blog posts for instance so I won’t feel the urge to go check who just sent me a tweet 🙂 )
When you’re completely done or at a stopping point with that task, then feel free to go make a phone call, read and response to a couple of emails, or handle urgent items.

Why This Works?

I’ve learned through experience as well as expert opinions that the human mind can only stay in peak productivity for a short time. Some experts claim that short time is only 30-50 minutes, hence why bullet item #2 above says focus on a task only 45 or 50 minutes at a time.

Once you go longer than that, your mind starts to get tired, productivity level starts to decrease, and your mind starts to wander – all counter-productive to what you’re trying to do.

In addition, handling tasks for that time period is only half the battle. How many times do we get interrupted by the spouse, kids, phone ringing, someone walking into your office, etc.? The way this process is going to really work for you is if you eliminate distractions before hand and/or stop interruptions when they happen (bullet #3 above). Distractions hurt your productivity level because your mind has to take some time to get back to what you were doing before it got interrupted, losing time overall.

I promise you if you try this, you’ll exponentially get more accomplished in a day!

So Now What?

Well, first, if you are one of those people who claim to be great at multitasking, stop! Try this method and see how it works for you. I am going to bet the farm that it works better for you. 🙂

As another one of my friends puts it:

Multi tasking is soooo overrated! It leaves too many chances to drop one of the million balls one is trying to juggle.

Your turn…

So what say you? Do you claim to be the greatest multitasker? How does that work out for you? Have you tried the fearsome focus method? Please share your feedback below!

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Wassuper, it’s yo girl, Kesha and I believe we should Be the Fruit Loop in a world full of Cheerios because life is more interesting when you dare to be different and challenge what’s “normal!” I am wildly passionate about helping highly driven women pursue fantabulous relationships, juicytastic careers/bizzes, and authentically inspired lives. Let’s rethink, redo, and reinvent YOU so you can live life YOUR way!
Multitasking is a Lie! Dispelling the Myth
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  • So i thought i was multitasking, but really i am just an *ss?
    You Americans have asuch a way with words 😉

    Great article, we all try and juggle it, and yes, things fall through the cracks. But we are made to believe that we should be able to do it all and then we add the pressure ourselves. i use a timer for my kids, i think i would benefit greatly on a more timely approach of my own!

    • HA HA…well you already know how we Americans are!! Great idea to use timers for the kids too! Helps them to learn this technique early. I will admit though that sometimes I get tired of the timer because it seems to always go off when I don’t want it to 🙂

  • You right but that doesn’t make it easy to do…It’s my go-to procrastination strategy (hahaha)

    • You are hilarious! I think a lot of us do that and we all know that something can be simple…but easy? Well, that’s another story 🙂

      Thanks chica for adding your feedback!

      ~K

  • I just say “I wasn’t paying attention” which I feel is more truthful :D. Actually I’m a fan off prioritized lists and a timer. I set the time, do #1 on the list until the timer goes off then move on. I’ve had a great deal of success doing this.

    • I wish more people were more truthful like you, Ini. I just don’t like it when people use the word when, evidentally (and ironically) they couldn’t have been multitasking at all – something obviously wasn’t being paid attention to!

      Girl, I have my Toodledo, task list, open all day every day and even on my phone which is greatly successful. Glad you find much success with this method as well (although I kind of knew you’d be a “lister”).

  • The points are (1) most people can’t multi-task. (2) Some can- but the choice of the various activities renders it possible or not. (3) Many more can time-slice over multi-tasking- if they learn some facts.

    As a simple test- do you ONLY watch the road and engender scenarios when you drive? Or are you talking with your carmates, listening to the radio, working out a scenario for the next client, etc.

    Well- now grind your drings…

    • Hey Roy! And it’s the majority of those who can’t multitask that seem to proclaim they are great at it. Time-slicing – I like that as an option as well, though it still lends to one spending time on one item, then another, etc. in a focused manner.

      Roy, I swear I was just in the car with a friend of mine who was trying to change the radio station and almost got us hit…*shaking my head*…she’s one of those people I’m talking about. I told her I’ll be the car DJ so she can focus on the road LOL 🙂

      As an aside, I used to always wonder why people turned down the radio volume when looking for an address. Now that I’m older I understand the noise can be a distraction. I thought they were mutually exclusive – I can see an address and don’t need my ears for that tee hee 🙂

      I’m grinding 😉

      ~Kesha

      • You hit it on the head,there, Kesha. Folks that read by saying the words out loud or moving their lips- cannot listen and read at the same time. That’s using the same portion of the brain- and that’s what does not work- unless you really, really practice- and even then…

  • Mother sometimes need to multitask and while sometimes I multitask, when I need to get something important done – everything else is off and on hold until the task is done. I just miss too much otherwise. It was a really hard lesson for me to learn though

    • @Roberta, and that’s exactly what I mean – you’re doing the important stuff one at a time and focusing on it until it’s done. Smaller, unimportant items can be done “simultaneously” i.e. I vet my LinkedIn requests while watching TV (the former being a mindless task pretty much so it’s easy). 🙂

      So what you’re doing is working for you…Keep it going!

      ~Kesha

  • I am so sure our homie Scott Hanselman would LOVE to read this, LOL. The only thing I know is to go hard, so I don’t see it as multitasking, I see it as being greatness in progress. Retire by 45, yo. By any means necessary. Including doing one than more thing at a time 🙂

    • Go hard! I’m sure whatever method you have works for you because you are one busy sistah and get lots done 🙂

      It’s evident who’s great at “time-slicing” (not multitasking) as Roy alluded to in his comment. You are one of the good ones darling!

      ~Kesha

  • Wow! And all this time I thought I was an “expert” at multitasking! LOL You nailed it with this one! We can only be 100% present and focused on one thing at a time. Right now, my focus is on recommending this post to others! You are awesome!

    • Hey Martha!! So glad you came over to visit the blog and appreciate your recommending it to others! *hugs*

      I’m gonna start using the term “time-slicing” as Roy mentioned…so that’s what we’ll say you’re an expert in 😉

      Hope to see you back here soon!

      ~K

  • The thing is – no one ACTUALLY does more than any one thing at a time. Mutli-tasking is really just juggling tasks quickly. Five seconds of focus on one, then another, then another.

    It creates so much anxiety and mental static.

    I love your suggestion to use a timer! I’m totally going to do that today!

    Glad to have found you through #commenthour. Thanks for the stumble love and see you again soon.

    • Ahhh, there it is. You said it – anxiety and mental static. You hit the nail on the head with that one Ryan! That’s what it looks like too when you see (or even imagine) people “trying” to do so much all at once. The older I get, the less I wanna do anyway, let alone simultaneously. LOL

      Thanks for your valued feedback…’Preciate ya!

      ~K

  • Thanks for this nice post!
    Multitasking is not really a problem- what is a problem for me is that I may lose track of the endless hours working on my pc, closing one project after the other.
    I forget to be listen to my body and justfocusing on my projects.

    The cost of this can be high if I do not use a timer ( great advise) and take breaks where physically I step out and go for a 5 minutes walk, dring water or eat something.
    Thanks for this article and nice to meet you!

    • Hey Patricia, thanks for stopping through deary!

      Yes, you must take time for breaks or your body will eventually break down on you and MAKE you take break and we don’t want that!

      There are all types of free timers out there too so hopefully you can find one that fits your needs.

      Here’s to taking more breaks and being more productive 🙂

      ~Kesha

  • TJ

    Great article and you are so right. I used to claim to be the great multitasker the started trying to figure out why it was no longer working out!!

    You had some great tips that I will try. I did notice I don’t write as many posts because I’m always trying to cram something else in at the same time and then can’t focus on either .

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • It’s funny that you mentioned trying to write while “multitasking” because it’s taking me 5 minutes to write this sentence because one of my fav discovery shows is on! LOL

      *turns TV off to concentrate on answering comments* 😉

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