Multitasking Is A Scientifically Proven Lie So Stop Calling It A Valuable Skill! Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work In Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
This unassuming little book by Jeff Sutherland--who's a badass for more epic reasons than I can practically go into here for the sake of digestion--provides a wealth of proven tips that can help maximize efficiency. Whether you just want to improve your speed and effectiveness as an individual or you want to optimize the productivity of an entire team, Scrum has real, tested-and-proven solutions to very real problems. In addition to sharing what to do to get better results faster, he also includes quite a bit about stuff we could really gain from by NOT doing; of these, multitasking tops the list.
Multitasking, that tantalizing "valuable skill", is anything but. Multitasking is a pipe dream, a fantasy, it's an illusion, it's DE-lusion, it's a chimera! The point is, multitasking is totally bullsh*t, and here's why: the brain can only really focus on one thing at once. The brain can *sort of* hold on to two ideas at the same time, but it does not actually handle them both at once; the brain rapidly alternates back and forth. Think about talking on the phone while driving, for example. Does talking on the phone while driving really make you a better driver? Of course not! Everyone knows this (and yet we're pretty much all guilty).
"When I go into a company I usually find that about 85 percent of effort is wasted. Only a sixth of any of the work done actually produces something of value."
85 PERCENT! And, this is due mostly to... our old friend multitasking! You see, friends, what happens when we multitask is we are switching constantly from one topic to another topic to another topic, and you may be like, "yeah duh what's wrong with that?", but the truth is that the brain has to take time to shift with each change and this time shifting from one task to another actually makes the total time to complete all tasks literally double. What's more, the more tasks you attempt to accomplish at once, the longer each of them ends up taking. It's crazy.
I don't know what to tell you, since you probably are multitasking right now and so am I a little, but I think we can all do ourselves a favor and try to do less at once.