Multi-Tasking is Evil. Stop It.

Traffic Stop“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both” – First Nations Proverb

There was a Toronto real-estate agent on “Canada’s Worst Drivers” a while ago who was bragging how he only ever paid one of his dozens of traffic tickets by always showing up at court and challenging them. He was proud  of his ability to drive, smoke, text, and eat simultaneously. He rationalized his unsafe behaviour as what you needed to do to get ahead in a competitive market. My thought was “You might not have to multi-task so much if you spent less time in court. You wouldn’t spend so much time in court if you weren’t always multi-tasking.”

I also thought, “I don’t want to drive on the same road as you.”

It’s been known since the 1970’s that interruptions reduce the quantity and quality of our cognitive work (thinking). It can take as long as fifteen minutes to get back to where you were before the phone rang or somebody knocked on the door. Multi-taskers are fare worse at memory retention and focus in standardized tests. It inhibits creativity and causes stress.

Some jobs need you deal with interruptions. Probably not yours, or probably not to the extent you think it does. Focus on one thing at a time. Do it, and only it. Do it well. Then move on to the next thing. If you don’t know what to work on next, then flip a coin to choose.

Being frantically busy is not the same as being effective. You’re not fooling anybody.

…and on a related note:

“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.” ― Peter F. Drucker

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