Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Myth of Multitasking, by Dave Crenshaw

The Myth of Multitasking: How "Doing It All" Gets Nothing Done, by Dave Crenshaw

Written with the “management fable” style (think The Goal by Goldratt and Cox) this is a very fast read. As the title suggests this book illustrates how multitasking (which Crenshaw renames to switchtasking) is an illusion that actually hurts productivity instead of enhancing it. Many folks take pride in the ability to do multiple things at once; this book outlines several exercises that clearly show that the overall time these take is actually much longer because of the hidden time it takes to switch between tasks. As Crenshaw puts it, as a society we have embraced concurrency “as a way of life, but the truth is that multitasking is neither a reality nor is it efficient.” After the story itself, an appendix includes a set of worksheets for the reader to duplicate the exercises described in the prose, making this an odd mix of both fiction and non-fiction: part novel and part textbook.

As the concept of completing work before starting something new is important to the agile management world in which I work I expected to enjoy this book. Instead, I found it a bit pedantic and found myself skimming sections even though it is just over 100 pages long. The overall message is solid and reinforced what I believe to be true (although admittedly don’t practice well in my personal tasks) but I was left with an empty sense of, “Is that it?” The worksheets in the back redeem the book in a big way, though; these tools can be used both to improve your personal productivity and convince others of the “myth of multitasking.”

First Sentence:
Phil glanced at the digital clock on his sedan.

1 comment:

Mike Lunt said...

Looks like an interesting read to suggest to others...

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