In one of my Super Women purseology presentations to women audiences, I often say, “Women are great at multi-tasking and men, well- they can only do one thing at a time.” This usually gets a good laugh, because we believe it to be true. But after reading the eye-opening book, The Myth of Multi-tasking by Dave Crenshaw, I must admit, I was wrong. I hate being wrong. Turns out, women are no better at multi-asking than men. Research proves that the brain cannot effectively do two things at once. So, although it looks like multi-tasking, what we’re actually doing is switching from one task to the next, which proves to be way less effective and way more time consuming! Each time you switch, your brain has to basically readjust and regroup, before it can focus on the new task. This eats up precious time.
Here’s an experiment that Crenshaw uses to prove his point. Set a timer and see how long it takes you to write Multi-tasking is unproductive. Now write and time it again, only this time, write a corresponding number under each letter. For instance, you will write the M with a number 1 underneath, then go back and write the U with the number 2 underneath, all the way until you get to the E in unproductive the number 26 underneath. Once again, time it. You will be shocked at how long it takes your brain to process two functions simultaneously.
Muli-tasking also explains why I’m still writing the same blog that I started at 9 a.m. and it is now 2 p.m., I mean 2:10 p.m. I just had to take a phone call and check my e-mail at the same time and then I switched back to the. . . Wait! I had to defrost pork chops for dinner. Now it’s 2:14 p.m. I mean, 2:20 p.m., because my dog needed to go out and I remembered that I was updating my expense sheet, and the travel check list for my next speaking trip and now it’s 3: 37!
Although multi-tasking is a lie, Crenshaw claims that background tasking can be somewhat effective. This is when you are talking on the phone, changing a load of laundry, yelling at your kid for putting clean jeans in the laundry basket and apologizing to the person on the phone for shouting in their ear all at the same time. Wait a minute, I think once I yelled at my kid, I technically switched from background tasking to multi-tasking. I think I’ll switch over to the couch and lie down.