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Ironically, the biggest obstacle to effective time management is something that many people believe is what makes them more productive. Let's address the myth of multitasking before we dive deeper into time management. In order for you to experience this myth firsthand, let's do an exercise together. We're going to find out how well you use your time when you multitask. You can download and print out a handout from the course page. Alternatively, I have an example of the handout here. You can use any piece of white paper to do this exercise.
Notice that I have the phrase at the top of this exercise that says, "Multitasking is worse than a lie." Mark Twain was credited with saying there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Perhaps you've heard that before. Well, I say there are lies, damned lies, and multitasking. Multitasking is worse than a lie, because it is culturally acceptable. It's something we've all been taught makes us more productive. What you're about to experience firsthand is how multitasking is actually hindering your productivity.
Here is how the exercise works. Wait to hear all of the instructions before you begin. First, I want you to do recopy the phrase "multitasking is worse than a lie" in the first row, and then underneath that in the second row right the numbers 1 to 27. And when you get done, just write your time off to the end of the second row. Great! Now let's do this again. This time I want you to multitask.
So for every letter you write you're going to write a number. So you'll began by writing the letter m and beneath that you'll write a 1, and then you write a u and beneath that you'll right a 2, l, 3, and so on. And this again will be a time to exercise. What you just experienced is the myth of multitasking. Rather than getting more done faster, you got worse results slower.
This is because your brain is physically incapable of handling multiple active tasks at the same time. It's why I call multitasking switchtasking. What you really did when you tried to multitask was switch back and forth rapidly between the tasks, just as you switched back and forth rapidly between the numbers and the letters. No, I'm not talking about doing something active while something mindless or mundane happens in the background, such as exercising while watching tv. To clarify I call that sort of activity background-tasking. But when most people say they are multitasking or "I'm a good multitasker", they're referring to attempting to perform multiple active tasks at the same time.
This is switchtasking, and it's always devastating to effective time management.
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