The awful truth about multitasking

May 3, 2014 | Articles

Dear Direct Response Letter Subscriber:

When the Winter Olympics were on, my wife watched it devotedly.

But she also did social media and e-mail on her laptop at the
same time.

“You’re going to miss the performance,” I said while figure
skating was on.

“I can multitask,” she said proudly.

A minute later a skater did a spectacular triple Lutz, but Amy
missed it because she was looking at her computer screen and not
at the TV screen.

This is yet another demonstration that multitasking is a bad
idea and usually doesn’t work.

A few times I wrote something on the PC while simultaneously
talking on the phone.

Invariably, my concentration on the phone call waned, and
before I knew it, I missed what the person was saying, which was
uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing.

People who multitask think they are getting more done, but a
growing body of psychology research indicates this is not true.

In particular, a 2001 study conducted by Joshua Rubinstein,
Jeffrey Evans, and David Meyer found that multitasking reduces
productivity as much as 40%.

The only multitasking that really works is when you do two
activities at the same time and both are not demanding – for
instance, mowing the lawn while listening to an educational
lecture on your iPod.

I don’t actually do that because I do not mow the lawn or own an
iPod. But you get the idea.

I know a lot of subscribers will write to tell me that they are
successful multitaskers. But unless you have measured your
productivity and quality on a task (e.g., writing) with and
without multitasking, I would argue that you don’t know whether
it serves you well.

As a youngster fresh out of college, I drove from the plant at
Westinghouse into Baltimore to take marketing classes at Johns

I multitasked way back then when, in bumper-to-bumper traffic,
I foolishly opened my textbook on my lap and read while driving.
Result: several narrowly avoided fender benders and minimal
retention of read material.

I am much more of a fan of sequential tasking: doing one
project, and then when you tire of it, switching to something

I saw the rudest form of multitasking recently when I attended a
lecture: many people in the audience were pecking away at their
smart phone screens as the speaker talked.

This is discourteous as well as disconcerting to the speaker if
he sees it. If you don’t want to listen to the lecture, don’t
attend. Otherwise, eyes on the stage and phone in your pocket.


Bob Bly

P.S. While I wrote this essay, I did absolutely nothing else. I
mono-task while writing, which means while I write, that’s all I
am doing. Result: 83 published books and counting. And remember,
I write books on the side; my main job is copywriting.

Bob Bly
Copywriter / Consultant
31 Cheyenne Dr.
Montville, NJ 07045
Phone 973-263-0562
Fax 973-263-0613

I welcome your feedback! Did you like today’s message?

What other topics would you like to see covered in my e-mails?

Please let me know at:

About the Author



Doug Marcello The LEAD: Ignoring your data, fearing discovery in litigation, can be fatal to your company. The data is there. Plaintiffs will get it. You must proactively cumulate and analyze it to promote safety and proactively prepare to defend any potential suit....

Roadcheck is May 16 – Download the Inspection Guide

What can you expect duging any roadside inspectin - but especially during the annual Roadcheck blitz?  The inspectin guidelines are published and consistently used throughout North America. Download the guide here.

Preparing your drivers for deposition

Doug Marcello Your driver is to be deposed. They are to be thrust into a foreign world for which they have neither any experience nor concept. And out the other side of the process comes their “sworn testimony”, written in cement, as to the accident, training,...

Driver Survey Results

by David Hollis For the typical trucker who is in the driver's seat of their truck for most of their waking hours while on the road, having that seat be as comfortable as possible is a big deal. That's just one of the things we found out in our recent survey of what...

All 3G ELDs Do Not Comply with FMCSA Regs by 12/31/2022

Verizon is the last network to shut down their 3G network, the sunset date is December 31, 2022.  The other major networks shut down their 3G earlier this year. If you have an ELD system that relies on 3G to operate, it will no longer be compliant.  The carrier has 8...