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Get More Done, One Thing at a Time


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Multitasking doesn’t work, but “singletasking” does.

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People try to multitask to accomplish the many jobs that confront them every day. But multitasking just doesn’t work. In fact, it adds to the time it takes to complete complex tasks. You will do much better if you handle tasks sequentially, one-by-one, and not simultaneously – which is actually impossible. Multitasking is symptomatic of larger societal problems, including alienation, the devaluation of human experience and meaningless relationships according to Devora Zack, a consultant and practitioner of neurolinguistic programming. She explodes the “multitasking myth” and offers a practical alternative – “singletasking” – focusing on one chore at a time – as the way to work and live with greater efficiency and production. Zack lives the sort of frenetic life that seems to demand multitasking, but instead she singletasks successfully. If you are trying to do too much, all at once, getAbstract recommends her fresh alternative to multitasking.


Multitasking Scenarios

Multitasking scenario number one: Your most important client is on the speakerphone. You lean back in your chair, your eyes intent on your computer screen. As she talks to you about her business, you see an instant message roll across your computer screen. Some co-workers are going to lunch at a nearby Thai restaurant. Can they pick up anything for you?

Pleased, you type in your order. While you’re thinking about pad Thai, your client, who kept speaking while you were planning lunch, interrupts your meanderings by asking, “Do you agree with that strategy?” What strategy? You have no idea what your client is talking about. Your mind has been on Thai cuisine, not business strategy. Maybe you should’ve focused on your job and not your lunch.

Multitasking scenario number two: You have a big, immediate, all-consuming problem and you need your boss’s counsel to solve it. You schedule a meeting to discuss the issue. During this get-together, while you carefully explain the problem, your boss constantly multitasks: tidying the desk, sending an instant message, rounding up reports and folders for an upcoming meeting, and otherwise signaling to you...

About the Author

The President of Only Connect Consulting, Devora Zack is a member of the visiting faculty for Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.

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    j. w. 7 years ago
    #30DaysOfSummaries Although there are people seems good at multitasking, I still find it most efficient for myself to be singletasking.
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    M. O. 7 years ago
    I may have to buy this book. I have never been very good at multitasking.
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    W. A. 7 years ago
    So true! Some people mistakenly believe that young people who grew up in the age of high-tech are natural multitaskers. However, the brains of young people are similar to the brains of older people and they face the same limitations when it comes to multitasking. No one, young or old, is a natural multitasker; multitasking is simply not a human capability!