The Multi-Tasking Myth


Multi-tasking has been one of the big buzzwords over the last decade. It’s often cited as a key requirement for hiring; and many tools – PDAs being a great example – abound to help us in this goal.

There’s only one little glitch: Multi-tasking, as many people perceive it, is quite literally an impossibility. The truth is, our brains simply aren’t wired to focus on two things at once. Not convinced? Try this exercise we do in some of our customer service training programs: Give yourself one minute to fill out a fifteen question questionnaire while someone is reading an article to you. One of two things will happen. Either you won’t get the questionnaire completed, or you’ll have little to no recall of what the other person was saying. Still not sure? Then ask yourself this: How would you feel if your surgeon was checking messages on his Blackberry during your surgery? Or what if your accountant was doing your taxes while watching a riveting movie?

Oh, sure, we can plan and schedule things so that we can have more than one project on the go. And we can jump from one thing to the next and back again very quickly. But we can’t give more than one thing our attention at any given moment in time. To be successful at something, you have to be good at it. To be good at something, you have to focus on it. Don’t let distractions in the guise of ‘multi-tasking’ get in the way of your success.

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