#37 Multitasking Is a Myth

What We Do Is Really Task Switching — And that Has a Big Cost

Multitasking is a myth.

Our brains aren’t like computers with parallel processors. We can’t actually do multiple things at one time. What we do is not “multi-tasking” per se, it’s more accurately called “task switching.”

Here’s why we should care.

Remember our handy-dandy Deep Work equation from our last +1?

High Quality Work Produced = Time Spent x Intensity of Focus

Essentially: If you want to create a high volume of high-quality work without spending your entire life working, you want to jack up the intensity of your focus.

Here’s the deal: If you constantly paper cut your attention by switching from one task to another you’ve gotta know that you’re paying a high cost as you diminish the intensity of your focus.

Researchers can look at this in a lab and see what happens to your performance on tasks when you switch from one thing to another. They’ve discovered that your performance goes down dramatically when you constantly switch.

One of the reasons this happens is that all that task switching creates something called “attention residue”—part of your attention is still hanging on to the last thing you did. There’s a residue of attention from that task you just switched from that’s negatively impacting your ability to crush it right now.

The solution?

Create a Deep Work time block. A period of time in which you focus EXCLUSIVELY on one task. Focus ALL your attention on ONE thing.

Creating that Deep Work time block is today’s +1.

When’s good for you? 😃

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