Multitasking: Fact or Fiction? And Why Should You Care?


OK, as a male I may be at a disadvantage when it comes to multitasking although Wikipedia does claim that it’s basically not possible to multitask – even if we think otherwise.

The problem I find with multitasking (or trying to do it) is that it takes time to get back into the correct zone. That’s especially true if I’m trying to write some computer code but it’s not much different with writing an email like this or creating the slides for a new video or recording them.

An interrruption means I lose my place.

And, by definition, multitasking is an interruption to at least one of the tasks involved. So if you think you can concentrate on a YouTube video whilst checking Facebook on your phone and replying to a chat message on Skype and not burn the dinner you’re cooking, you’re probably a liar. At least one of those tasks will be taking the lions share of your concentration – or should be.

That goes for your internet marketing as well.

You can’t keep one eye on Facebook, another on Twitter and a third eye (I know, very new age) on the email you’re writing to your list.

It just doesn’t work as you’d expect.

Emails go off topic.

Video slides don’t follow in a logical sequence.

Articles are disjointed.

Video recordings skip things or go over the same thing more than once because you’ve forgotten where you got to before you pressed pause.

Not to mention replying to the wrong person in the wrong Skype window – that’s easy enough to do when the only thing you’re doing is instant messaging, it’s an almost certainty if you’re multitasking.

So what’s the solution?

The glib answer is concentrate on one thing at once. That’s the ideal but it’s not always easy to do.

Closing Skype windows only works if you close the entire program and quit it on your phone as well.

The same goes for Facebook to a lesser extent.

And unless you have a separate computer in a separate room and maybe even a separate building, chances are you can’t really concentrate on just one thing.

For instance, I went off to Google to search for other people’s thoughts on multitasking whilst I was writing this. It takes a lot of discipline not to just sneak a look at another page or another site whilst doing that.

Probably the best I get most of the time is an 80/20 ratio or something close to that. So the main task takes up most of my pretend-multitasking.

The real trick is to realise you’re doing this.

Then at least you can work out some priorities in your mind about what should be your main focus.

And if that means your top priority isn’t what you hoped it would be, at least you can decide whether it really is your top priority for this moment in time, whether something else has grabbed your attention and whether that something else really should be top of your mind.

Of course, some days, no matter what you do, events seem to conspire against you. In which case maybe it’s worth breaking state – consciously do something else, maybe even go out for a short walk – and then coming back to things with a fresh mind.

So if you think you’re successfully multitasking, stop and put your full attention on the answer to the question of whether you’re really doing that or whether you’re just trying to fool yourself.