The conclusion of our guidance on what to do instead of multi-tasking.

We've said often on air that multi-tasking is a lie. We don't mince our words, and we totally mean it. Multi-tasking is impossible for humans. It's not even possible for computers. In the early days they just switched between tasks so quickly that it seemed as if they were multi-tasking. Nowadays they have multiple chips, so it can be argued they are multi-tasking, but you still only have one brain, so the argument doesn't help you.

Yes, you can rub your belly and pat your head at the same time. How much concentration does that take though? If we do it, we can't do anything else, because doing those two things simultaneously takes up our WHOLE brain.

We sometimes show this video at our conferences: Test Your Awareness: Do The Test. In it, you're asked to look out for the number of passes the basketball players make. Something else happens in the video, which if you haven't seen it before, you won't see. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN'T MULTITASK! If you are counting basketball passes (a relatively simple task) you cannot see the other things that happen.

And, it doesn't matter if you're male or female, old or young, computer savvy or technically barely literate. No-one can multi-task. It's just not in our physiology. (Humans differ by .1% from each other, so we're all a lot more the same than we are different).

Those of you who are thinking, but this isn't me... *I* can multi-task, you're wrong, but apparently not being convinced. Please try and experiment with us. Try these techniques for just a week and see if your output improves. If it doesn't, you can go back to multi-tasking with our blessing.

This Cast Answers These Questions

  • How do I give up multi-tasking?
  • How do learn to concentrate?
  • What do I do when I get distracted?

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