The Energizer

Resilient Insights for Work & Life

Busting the Multitasking Myth

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Wednesday, May 27, 2015
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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.”

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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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