The Myth of Being More Productive by Multitasking

One of my personal flaws is my monkey fascination. I am interested in too many things. For example, when I was at the university I wanted to major in English, History, Dutch, Art, and graduate with Honors.

Um, no. That didn’t work. They finally wrote me a letter and said 220 credits was more than enough. And I would graduate the next semester with whatever degree I could cobble together.

Of course, then I started my Masters of Accountancy and Information Systems program. (Some people never learn.)

When I was in my Masters program I started an investment club, wrote fiction, and wanted to start a FSBO home business as well as a write a non-fiction book with 4 collaborators. Oh yeah, and I was supposed to be Mr. Mom with two kids at the time while my wife put me through school.

All this did was stress my marriage to the point that my wife was considering giving me the pink slip. Of course, being so involved in so many projects I had no idea I was in danger of being layed off.

No, over the years I’ve learned that simplicity and focus is divine. It’s good to say no to the million things that vie for my attention, even the many noble causes. It’s smart to put a lot of effort into a few things. Become an expert in one area.

In business, I’ve watched some friends focus, focus, focus. They’ve put in their time and have become very successful at what they do. They’ve worked hard. . . at one thing. On the other hand, you have those of us who haven’t yet been able to give up that danged monkey brain. (Although I will give myself credit–for the last five years I’ve been trying to reduce. Trying to focus. I’m failing spectacularly. But I figure sooner or later my efforts will pay off.)

The multitasking myth shows up not only in the general activities we engage in, but also in learning. I heard this NPR story on myth of multitasking and thought I’d share.

Maybe less really is more.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.