Resiliency requires energy and focus—both of which vanish in our ever-pressing sense that we can only get “it all done” by handling many things at the same time. We bring our work to our homes, watch smart phone screens instead of the eyes around the dinner table, and go into a restless sleep right after checking more email.
Devora Zack, author of Singletasking, wins the case from both a neuroscience and productivity perspective: multitasking is just plain ineffective at the least and dangerous at best. The technology trap has convinced us that we can do many things at once. But I was struck by the fact that brain research says we are NOT wired that way. Stanford University research concludes that the brain is incapable of focusing on two things at once.
Unless the two things don’t compete for the same mental resources. We can listen to music while doing the dishes. But Zack warns that even doing routine things (like driving to the grocery store) can become dangerous if we zone out while thinking of our next project and run the stoplight.
This one quote alone freed my spirit: "whatever you choose, do it fully". That summarizes Zack's first principle: "Get it done, one thing at a time.”I think I need that tattooed on my wrist!
I "know" this stuff and yet I fall into the multitasking mess—watching the computer screen while talking on the phone; balancing QuickBooks while wrapping a present; and yes, sneaking a peek at text messages while at a stop light. (Don’t tell the highway patrol!)
Shame on me. I love this book and Zack’s writing style but it was the assessment of where I fell in the multitasking continuum that got my attention. Thankfully, Zack offers plenty of practical advice to jump off the multitasking merry-go-round.
This is another of the those books I say, “read and reap.”