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The Myth of Multitasking: How "Doing It All" Gets Nothing Done
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The Myth of Multitasking: How "Doing It All" Gets Nothing Done

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  585 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
In a compelling business fable, The Myth of Multitasking confronts a popular idea that has come to define our hectic, work-a-day world. This simple yet powerful book shows clearly why multitasking is, in fact, a lie that wastes time and costs money. Far from being efficient, multitasking actually damages productivity and relationships at work and at home.
Hardcover, 138 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Jossey-Bass (first published August 15th 2007)
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Rachel Terry
Apr 02, 2010 Rachel Terry rated it it was ok
Shelves: psych
Multitasking is actually "switch tasking" because you can't technically do two things at the same time. When you attempt to multitask, you do things poorly and actually take longer. That's the whole book! I just saved you an hour.

It's a good point, but it could have been deftly handled in a magazine article. There are some copy editing problems.
Oct 20, 2008 Tiffany rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Recommended to Tiffany by: husband
This is a fabulous book that everyone should read at least once. It takes an hour or two at the most.

It's written in story form (like "E-Myth" or "The One Minute Manager"). "Phil" is a business coach who is helping "Helen" regain control and organization in her business. He takes her through a series of exercises (included in the back of the book) to show how multitasking takes MORE time than focusing on one thing at a time, and that it damages productivity and-- worse--relationships. Then he g
Maggie Delcamp
Aug 07, 2013 Maggie Delcamp rated it it was amazing
My manager told me about this book. I had never read a "business book," but I respect my managers thoughts and read it. Wow!

This book was a super fast read (less than 2 hours) but mind blowing. It is not just work/business minded. It is a life style change!

When I finished to book, I had real ways of makings change, and have seen a difference in my family time and relationships, and changed in my office. I'm not always catching up now and bouncing around.

I would put it on a top pick list for su
May 06, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
This is a very simple and straight forward book. It takes about one hour to read it, and it has the potential to vastly improve ones effectiveness, time management, and personal relationships. It confirmed to me what I've thought for a long time. There is no such thing as multitasking. You can only actively pay attention to one thing at a time.

For example: You can drive and also have a conversation with a passenger, but the driving doesn't take any active thought most of the time, it's a backgr
Douglas Mangum
May 07, 2014 Douglas Mangum rated it really liked it
This book was a quick read, mainly because the author is quite effective at communicating his main idea directly and concisely. He makes his point using a narrative, telling a story about a business management consultant and his experience coaching the busy CEO of a growing company. Most of the teaching principles come through the dialogues from these coaching sessions as the consultant gradually shows the CEO how we're all kidding ourselves that we really "multitask" well and that we're really ...more
Dec 17, 2008 Chris rated it did not like it
Overly simplistic. The dialogue was cheesy, canned and unrealistic. Writing the entire book as a conversation between the author and the most idiotic CEO ever just seems kind of like a lazy way to do it.

Quick read, so you don't have to really invest much time in it. The distinction between multitasking (context switching) and background tasking is valuable distinction. There were a few good time management tips mixed in.

Normally when I read a book of this genre, I end up sayi
May 06, 2014 Todd rated it really liked it
i didn't even plan on reading this little book, i found it on my table and was curious about some self help bogus book and wondered who would waste time reading something like this. It takes about 1.5 hours to read from start to finish and i thought it was pretty interesting in the end.

here is one of the funner exercises from the book.

Multitasking is worse than a lie

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 23 24 25 26 27

in the first approach try writing each character in the
Jan 30, 2012 Jay rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, business
This short book makes a compelling case that multitasking doesn't exist at all and that what what we are really doing is inefficient switch tasking. The book offers hard numbers on the cost of switch tasking woven into a simple story.

The author argues that neither computers nor people do multiple things at once. While it is possible to have something going on in the background without serious cost, of you switch back and forth between tasks, the cost of switching can be very high.

The book distin
Aug 02, 2009 Jer rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it, vpl, organization
My first impression was "This is all common sense." feeling. However, if that was the case, why do ALL of us allow fall into the trap of thinking that working on more than one thing, at a time, is productive?

Crenshaw reminds us that "multitasking" (which he says is really "multiswitching") is the biggest lie.

When was the last time you gave someone your undivided attention for more than 2 minutes? Do your coworkers tend to linger at your desk, thinking of another question, before leaving?

The book
Catherine Gillespie
Feb 01, 2015 Catherine Gillespie rated it liked it
Shelves: balance, habits, work
The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done is a must-read if you’re one of those people who still thinks that multitasking is good or useful. Even if you know multitasking isn’t efficient, it can still be a temptation to engage in it, especially with the ability to have devices on and multiple windows open all the time.

The Myth of Multitasking, which takes the form of a dialog between a productivity coach and a CEO (that might annoy some people, but it’s a fast read so you mi
Bismarck Public Library
I picked up "The Myth of Multitasking" because it looked interesting and I needed a quick read. Little did I know that I would learn so much and that it would pertain so directly to me.

The author explains how it isn't possible for humans to do two things at once. It may look like two things are being done at once, but we can really only concentrate on one thing.

What most people do is switch between multiple tasks. This wastes time and we don't do as good of a job as if we would just concentrat
Mar 01, 2016 Zora rated it liked it
About ten pages of good info stretched into 138 tiny pages via the device of a fictional narrative in which a consultant explains the info to what would be, if she existed, the lowest IQ executive in the history of business.

Still, three stars for the idea and the brief citations of real science done on this. Summary can be stated in a Russian proverb quoted: if you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.

I had to pry it out of the hand of the library assistant, who said the head librari
Viktor Zakharchenko
Jun 02, 2011 Viktor Zakharchenko rated it it was amazing
Прекрасная книга, отлично иллюстрирующая видоизмененную мудрость: Есть ложь, большая ложь и многозадачность. Хорошо показан вред переключений. Стилистика бизнес-романа отлично дает полноценные кейсы - как бороться с проблемой: с позиции личного менеджмента и с позиций корпоративных правил. Настоятельно рекомендую ко всем, кто теряет на переключении между контекстами до трети своего времени.
Feb 06, 2009 Scott rated it it was amazing
A quick, easy, but eye opening book that really sheds light on the fact that everyone I know (including myself) has the attention span of a gnat. We have forgotten how to listen and engage one with another. Even though I find it kinda cheezy that the writer writes in this "conversation" format, I think he is very effective in getting the point across.
Nov 24, 2010 Roxy rated it really liked it
This is a fast read... I began and finished it while in a plane, waiting for take-off. It's powerful, with specific examples of how to manage your time better. Using a case study, the author brings home the lessons that I really related to.
May 05, 2014 Dallas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
Really eye-opening. I think I'll have to read it again to change some of my deeply-held misconceptions about multitasking.
Oct 12, 2008 Marshall rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Marshall by: Lifehacker
Shelves: self-help
Short, simplistic, but invaluable lesson to be learned.
Aaron Tesauro
Jul 03, 2012 Aaron Tesauro rated it it was amazing
Loved this book - here were some highlights:

By Dave Crenshaw
Aaron Tesauro’s book excerpts and thoughts compiled June 30, 2012

Multitasking is a Lie
The widely talked about and common word “multitasking” is a lie - but nearly everyone in our fast-paced world has accepted is as something that’s true. We’ve all adopted it as a way of life. People are proud of their skills at multitasking, but the truth is that multitasking is neither a reality nor is it efficient (p. 11).

Dec 28, 2016 Lindsey rated it it was ok
Basic ideas are interesting though not anything necessarily groundbreaking; if you haven't heard something like this you're living in a hole. The style of this is weird like peeking in on a conversation about multitasking and it makes it wordy. Just directly stating his research/ideas would have been better.
Mar 06, 2017 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Since this book was written as a parable/story it was an engaging read for me. I found the information interesting and easy to understand. For my own future reference, here are the main points, verbatim from the book:
- recognize that multitasking is a lie.
-understand the difference between background tasking and switchtasking.
-become aware of the truth about how you have been using your time on a weekly basis.
-create a new and realistic budget for how you will use your time on a weekly basis.
Nov 26, 2008 Eric rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who like dumbed-down business books
Here's how you "read" this book:

* Carve 60 minutes out of your high-powered executive lifestyle. If you can't find 60 minutes, just take it with you for the first leg of your next corporate jet-fueled cross-country bender. It's small enough to fit into a standard Zip-loc bag, so no one vomits on it at any point.
* For the first 10 minutes, actually read the book from the beginning, like you would an expose of your rival's CEO. It will be exceptionally painful and nausea-inducing, so try to read i
Elevate Difference
Jan 10, 2009 Elevate Difference rated it it was ok
Along the business-model-turned-story line of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, The Myth of Multitasking is a fairly predictable read that can be summed up by its title. If you think there’s more to the story than understanding multitasking as a myth, you’re technically right. But the story only consists of about three main points—namely, understanding why multitasking is a lie, how to differentiate between background-tasking and switchtasking, and how to handle your schedule now that you learned these lesson ...more
Beth Peninger
Mar 13, 2016 Beth Peninger rated it it was amazing

Multitasking has been held up as the goal for a long time. All mothers feel like multitaskers and feel like rock stars when they can do 15 tasks at once. I used to pride myself for multitasking. Turns out I was actually switchtasking. But more on that in a minute. In the past few years, working outside the home especially, I have discovered that my perceived multitasking skills have waned. At first I attributed it to my age but then I started hearing about the myths of multitasking and I started
Mar 14, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Sometimes I work the graveyard shift, and it's usually more for warm-body fulfillment rather than actual work. It's impossible to do accomplish any real work after 3am, so I resort to the career books stashed around the office - books like Who Moved My Cheese? and this one.

The book is written as a conversation between an Organization Guru and a Harried CEO, with the conversation sounding nothing like real life because it's just an infodump on Why Multitasking Is Bad. The Organizational Guru is
Jun 08, 2009 E rated it really liked it
Handy time management guide, sans multitasking

Dave Crenshaw has managed to stretch a clear, simple concept into an entire book, but it is a useful, helpful concept. Crenshaw debunks the myth that multitasking can be effective and advocates focusing on one task at a time instead. He teaches this lesson by telling the story of a gifted business coach, Phil, and his stressed-out client, Helen. He uses the format of a business novel to demonstrate that multitasking is not an efficient way to get thi
Todd Handy
Dec 13, 2013 Todd Handy rated it it was amazing
I received Dave's book "The Focused Business" as a gift at a recent conference. I read it first, and couldn't get enough of his thinking. So, I started with his first book, The Myth of Multitasking, and then moved on to his next one, Invaluable.

Most people who know me know I'm OCD, anal, organized, meticulous, etc., etc., etc. So, any book that helps me organize myself more, manage myself more, help me to do more and be more, I'm interested in. However, part of my OCD can also be some ADD. I los
Leslie Shreve
Who should read this book? People who could be damaging their productivity and their relationships at work and in life by multi-tasking.

This simple, yet powerful book, shows clearly why multi-tasking is, in fact, a lie that wastes time and costs money. Far from being efficient, multi-tasking actually damages productivity and relationships at work and at home.

Here's what you can learn from this book:

1. The definitions of multi-tasking, switch-tasking and background tasking
2. Solutions for deal
May 04, 2009 Alissa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone in an office
Recommended to Alissa by: Stephanie Callahan
Told in the business fable style popularized by Who Moved My Cheese.

In 100 pages and one quick exercise Crenshaw manages to convey why multitasking (which is actually switchtasking) is not as effective as people believe. My only complaint is the author didn't really explain how background tasking (watching TV while folding laundry) can be effective. However, I think the point is that really 90% of what people consider multitasking is actually something called switchtasking, which is where you're
Dec 07, 2009 Dominique rated it really liked it
Do you have a few hours to spare? If so, read this book. This book is written in a simple and narrative style for those who don't enjoy non-fiction books as much as I do. This literary work busts the myth of multitasking. It portrays how we misinterpret the word "multitasking" and how much loss it becomes for businesses. Me of course, I am not a manager nor worried about my job's time management - I took it and thought of it as how to improve my own time management in order to feel less stressed ...more
Mar 12, 2013 Amanda rated it liked it
Found in the business section of course! This book helped me understand that my email habits are pretty bad in terms of focus and time management. It's helpful for people who think they are expert multitaskers who excel without hurting anyone or anything by their multitasking processes. I guess a common way for these books to go is for there to be a business scenario and an expert comes in and helps the business person understand why their method is flawed and then they work together to find a b ...more
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Dave Crenshaw is the master of helping business owners triumph over chaos. He has appeared in Time magazine, FastCompany, USA Today, and the BBC News. His first book,The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done, has been published in six languages and is a time management best seller. His latest book, The Focused Business: How Entrepreneurs Can Triumph Over Chaos, is also a small ...more
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