Category Archives: Multitasking

Why is trying to multitask so bad? And what can I do about it?

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Notice the title says “trying to multitask.” Research has proven that you simply cannot attempt to multitask without increasing opportunity for error and actually slowing your performance speed (I can prove it to you in my class on “Working Risk Based Tasks Under Known Distraction”) – let me introduce you to a different term: “Switch-tasking” that may be much closer to the “truth.” Dave Crenshaw states in his book called “The Myth of Multitasking” that “Multitasking is worse than a lie.” At first it didn’t make much sense to me, but it is crystal clear now. After presenting a dynamic learning activity on the subject to over 1000 nuclear professionals (in all departments and all levels of management) in 81 separate classes, and a wide-ranged group of CEOs, VPs, and business owners, I am convinced of a couple of things: humans have normal every-day-types of  limitations, and some people need to be put to the test to believe it. I also learned some interesting tools for dealing with situations where we know distractions exist.

Can you give me a hint as to what’s in the training? Absolutely!!!

The training is broken into the following sections – this is more or less the outline:

Risk-important Activity – What is it and what does it mean to us individually?

Distractions – How can we prepare for known distractions?

Attention – How are we wired and how does it change as we mature?

Focus – How are adults and children different in our abilities?

Habits – How can they help us when we need it the most?

Multi-tasking – Can you give me proof that humans are more efficient in performance and errors when we don’t attempt to multitask?

After the short lecture and a quick exercise answering the above questions, we proceed right into the activities to prove limitations and then derive tools that work for us in those situations. You get a risk-important activity to complete with time pressure and other distractions, and then get graded. We discuss the results and then we learn techniques that people discover worked for them by sharing success and failures. We also discuss some techniques that have worked for literally hundreds of professionals. How do I know they’ve worked? We run a very similar distraction activity directly following the conclusion so we can apply these concepts immediately. This activity is also graded and compared to the first looking for improvements in scores. The training takes less than two hours and was awarded by the Kansas City Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development for a Best Practice in the Outcomes category ( Many of the students have expressed interest in learning in this “gamified” environment. As a student of solid Instructional System Design and Workforce Education Development, I am particularly fond of the before and after comparison results.

Multitasking Video Links

Here I will share a lot of careful video web research that I encourage you to check out if you want to learn more or develop some of your own training on the topic. I love to include links, but this post certainly warranted more than the average amount I share:


Windows 8: Piano and Ping Pong

Awesome Multi-Tasking Commercial from Allstate w/Cool Effect

Sprint multitask Commercial

Training Courses – all short clips with amazing footage:

Dave Crenshaw’s Multitasking Exercise

Work Smart: Stop Multitasking and Start Doing One Thing Really Well

TED Talk: Paolo Cardini: Forget multitasking, try mono-tasking

Clifford Nass – Multitasking is Bad for Your Brain

Fighting Distractions with the Pomodoro Technique:

Official Video from the technique founder

The Awkward Web Guy explains his Pomodoro use

An Ignite Presentation


Clifford Nass, Multitasking: How It Is Changing the Way You and Your Children Think and Feel – heads up, this is approx. 1 hour long)


The Ellen Show: The Challenges of Multitasking

Man Law- Multitasking