The Lie Of Multitasking

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Multitasking has become a new fashion word. It’s praised as the most efficient way to get things done, but it’s the opposite of that.

Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time (Steve Uzzell)

The word multitasking came from computer development and was meant to describe multiple tasks sharing the same resource (the CPU). But this has turned around and is translated today as numerous tasks being done simultaneously by one resource (a person).
This is very misleading as even computers can only do one piece of code at a time. It just does it so fast; it appears that many tasks are done simultaneously. But it’s just an illusion.

However, our society loves the idea of multitasking. You can find it in people’s CV as a great skill, and many are proud to be real multitaskers. It’s seen as a great advantage if you can multitask, like driving a car and texting at the same time. But hold on, that’s not what we meant, right? What do we mean?

Most of us can do multiple things at the same time. We can walk and have a conversation at the same time. We can shave or apply makeup while listening to music on the radio. No problem with that. Where it becomes more difficult is when we try to focus on two things at the same time. That’s when we realize; we can’t. Have you ever spoken to someone who was looking at his phone and you suddenly realized that he stopped listening to you? That happens when the attention was taken by something happening on his phone, and he started focusing on it.

The only way we can create the illusion of multitasking is by rapidly switching focus from one thing to another and back. Have you ever tried that? The result will always be a small percentage of the outcome you could achieve if you entirely focus on it.

In the real world and especially in working environments, we are constantly bombarded by attention-seeking distractions around us. There is a loud conversation in the hall or the ringing phone. Emails are announced via notification systems at regular intervals. It’s tough today to get some uninterrupted time to focus on one thing. This all becomes even harder if we’re faced with tasks that require our full attention. It’s exhausting. We believe we manage to multitask, but we’re just driving ourselves crazy.

Instead of being proud to be a great multitasker, we should be pleased to find ways to concentrate on one thing and get it done right. I am sure you’ve heard about good listeners. Why do you think they’re good listeners? Because they focus on you alone and cut everything else out. Let’s face it; there’s nothing worse than talking to someone who is continually looking at his phone, right?

If you’re a person who’s always looking for ways to improve and to be the best you can at anything you do, you need to learn to focus on one thing only and to shut everything else out. That’s the skill that should be on your CV:

Able to fully concentrate on the task ahead while shutting out and reducing distractions that would cause a lesser quality of work and result!“.

How does that sound?

Be a focused single tasker, and you’ll be the best you could ever be!

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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