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The Myth of Multitasking: How "Doing It All" Gets Nothing Done Hardcover – August 18, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

The growth of email and text messages, among other innovations, has made time management at work more of a challenge. Keeping up with all of this simultaneous communication can become counterproductive. Business coach Crenshaw (founder, Fresh Juice Strategy) addresses the myths about multitasking and argues that it can in fact cost valuable time to employees. Crenshaw frames his book in the form of a fictional case study: "Phil," a consultant, is about to meet with the manager of retail clothing chain "GreenGarb: Clothes Mother Nature Intended" about improving employees' time management skills. Crenshaw's point is that the notion of multitasking is a false construct that costs both time and money. In fact, employees are "switch tasking" (switching back and forth between two or more tasks). Crenshaw claims that "background tasking" (doing two or more tasks, with only one of them requiring mental effort) could be more efficient and effective. Currently, employees lose time owing to interruptions by coworkers, distractions from new technologies, lack of attention to colleagues when they are speaking, and juggling home and work. The author also provides exercises for employees to measure their efficiency and effective use of time. Bibliographic citations are included, but a glossary would have been helpful. Overall, readable and thought-provoking; recommended for public and academic libraries.—Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"This little book was both a pleasure to read and offered some very practical advice in the form of a modern day fable." (Oliver Starr, Editor, Getting Things Done Times)

"Are you a master of juggling e-mail, voice mail, cell-phone calls and the like? No, you're not, says this slim fable-cum-manifesto against multitasking. The author, a business coach, gently ridicules the idea that anyone can concentrate on two things at the same time." (Andrea Sachs, Senior Reporter, Time Magazine, November 2, 2008)

"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." (businessskillbooks.blogspot.com, November 24, 2008)

"I applaud Crenshaw for taking on a popular buzzword and small-scale plague not only in business life, but also our day-to-day world. Multitasking is indeed a myth. I would be tempted to be more vigorous in my rhetoric and say that multitasking is a fraud and a thief." (businesscoach.us.com, November 24, 2008)

"Crenshaw's on a mission to reduce distractions, interruptions, and fire-fighting at work, and create environments that let employees see through tasks with their full attention before moving onto the next thing." (blumerlamotte.blogspot.com, October 13, 2008)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (August 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470372257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470372258
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Myth of Multi-tasking" is another business novel. This time about multi-tasking. My first response to this book was excitement. Finally, a new book on the subject of multi-tasking. I bet it will state all latest research, describe experiments done, check on the brain activity to physically prove multi-tasking is a myth etc etc. I was disappointed. None of the above is included in this book (ok, some quotes taken out of research) and instead it's an average story about a consultant helping a CEO.

The book describes the story of Phil who is called in my Helen for some reason. He convinces her that multi-tasking is not efficient (as she seemed to believe) and teaches her different ways of organizing her work so that she does not need to "switchtask" and becomes more effective. Of course, she believes the consultant, changes all her habits and her company and a happy end.

The book is easy to read. It's also small, you can read it in about an hour!! There is not much more than the above story in the book and some quotes from different research (of which some are actually interesting). One thing that annoyed me is that the author decided to rename "multi-tasking" to "switchtasking". I kept wondering why he couldn't call it simple "task switching" which is the common term for this.

The book didn't bother me. I got a couple of useful research quotes out of it and one interesting game to "prove" multitasking is inefficient. The book is small and therefore it might be easy to read. Don't expect much though. 3 stars.
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Format: Hardcover
As an owner of a growing business, my time is very precious. This book is a quick, enjoyable read and has already yielded a high ROI (Return On time Investment)! By following the simple principles outlined in this book, I have seen improvement in stress levels and productivity at work and home. We plan on purchasing extra copies and using them as a key part of our upcoming employee training.
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Format: Hardcover
As a busy mother of three and manager of a family business, I've spent years feeling like there is not enough time in the day, and no possible way to do everything that needs to get done. I believed that if I wanted to get anywhere in life I had to be a master "multitasker," but I was stressed-out, spun-out, and I saw no end in sight.

Today, I have to say that The Myth of Multitasking has totally changed my life.

Reading this book was a complete eye opener for me. I've learned how to examine my day, and see just where I'm losing precious time. I have to say that I was initially shocked at how ineffective I was. I was not only spinning my wheels at work, I was doing my family a huge disservice by not giving them the complete attention they deserve. Admittedly, a lifetime's worth of bad habits are hard to break, but this short fable literally gave me more time for my family, my work, and my life.

Highly recommended for anyone, but especially moms who work.
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Format: Hardcover
A great book for those of us who use technology "well" (or so you thought). The book makes an excellent case against allowing these tools to control the way we work. Principles from the book are actually helping me make good decisions. Having fewer irons in the fire at a given moment helps me better manage all the irons in the fire more generally in life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a simple little parable in the same vein as the One Minute Manager series. It is very quick and easy to read and has a couple of very practical activities. The thrust of the book is that while it is possible to switch between different tasks very quickly and give the illusion of multitasking, it is, in fact, a very inefficient strategy. What we are actually doing is switch tasking or background tasking.

No it is not a generational thing as our brain does not evolve that quickly and, sorry ladies, there is no evidence, other than urban myth anecdotal evidence, that women can multitask and men cannot. To do two things at once is to do both things poorly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Einstein was quoted as saying something like, "if you cannot explain it in simple terms, you do not know it well enough." I promise you Mr. Crenshaw knows his subject matter and explains it in story fashion and in simple yet so eloquently. My knowledge took a great leap with a short read.

Also, I highly advise this read for every manager and anyone like mean who is involved in process or performance improvement.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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 background task. Then when you try to merge into rush hour traffic or the car in front of you hits the brakes, suddenly driving becomes the active task and you stop hearing the passenger. A moment later you have ask your passenger "I'm sorry, what was that?"

You can either background task something which takes very little thought, or you can "switchtask" very quickly between two things that demand attention. Unfortunately, the more you switch , you more you have to play catch up because it takes a moment to pick up where you left off.

The example the book gives is simple. On one line write the sentence: "Multitasking is worse than a lie" Then below it write out the numbers from 1-27.
Okay, now do it again, but switch back and forth writing one letter on the top line, then one number on the bottom line till you've written all 27 numbers and letters, switching back and forth between each one. You'll be surprised how much longer it takes to do it switching between the two rather than completing one then the other. You'll also likely make a few mistakes when doing the two back and forth rather than one after the other.

Anyway - you get the point.
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