When did people start saying they were good at multitasking? And what makes it a myth?
Mitch Joel asked this same question during my interview on his excellent podcast show, Six Pixels of Separation. While researching for my book, The Myth of Multitasking, I discovered something interesting. The idea of multitasking came about around the same time Bill Gates released the Microsoft Windows software. In fact, the tech industry’s definition for multitasking is “a computer’s apparent ability to do multiple things at the same time.”
The keyword here is “apparent,” which means it’s not actually happening. It only SEEMS that way because a computer switches so quickly you can’t see it. Yet, as you’ve likely experienced, when you have hundreds of browser tabs open at the same time, the computer’s functionality slows down. Eventually, the entire system can crash!
The very definition implies that multitasking is a myth.
The same concept applies to people. Our brains are also overloaded when we attempt multiple attention-requiring tasks at the same time. What we’re really doing is SWITCHtasking—not multitasking.
You’re likely familiar with my take on switchtasking and the related costs. So, I’ll ask you:
Why is switchtasking inefficient?
Dave’s book, The Myth of Multitasking, is available now on Amazon. Learn how to minimize switchtasking and stop paying all the costs!