The Fallacy of Multitasking

Ever tried to wash dishes and clothes at the same time? Multitasking in the entrepreneurial realm is a bit like that.

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By William Ballard

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What is multitasking? Does it even really exist? Or is it all in our heads?

Take an example from the domestic realm: Have you ever tried to wash dishes and clothes at the same time? If so, you probably found it nearly impossible to manually do both at the same time. That's why washing machines and dishwashing machines were invented. What used to be a physical task has become a mechanical one.

Related: Multitasking Can Damage Your Brain and Career, Studies Say

So, give up on multitasking. The very idea is really nothing more than a myth and a scientifically impossible phenomenon. Psychologists have even shown that it is impossible for the human mind to completely focus on more than one thought at a time.

Of course you may think you're above all this: You may think you're some big shot because you are doing more than one thing at a time. But you are living in fantasy land. You're allowing your pride to stunt the growth of your true potential.

What's more, you may be scrambling your brain: In his book, The New Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz quoted popular television detective, L.T. Columbo's wisdom on this note: "Sometimes, my thoughts," Columbo says: "It gets like a traffic jam up here."

"Traffic jam" is the perfect metaphor: All successful entrepreneurs know that they cannot perform at the highest peak of their potential when a traffiic jam is going on in their heads. In Psycho-Cybernetics, Maltz asserted, "Peak performers virtually worship at the altar of 'focus' and 'concentration,' working tirelessly to achieve it, for very good reason: Concentration is a major key to minute-by-minute success in any endeavor."

It doesn't matter what your business venture is. The hardest thing about being successful is not your business's mechanics. It's the staying focused part that makes the difference.

So, when you are attempting to "multitask" (an impossible feat), what you are doing is reducing the amount of focus and concentration necessary for each task. In other words, you'll never be able to give each task 100 percent of your complete concentration.

If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing right, with your complete focus and gifts channeled in the direction of one given task at a given moment. Stop trying to put your talents and gifts into simultaneous multiple tasks. That's impossible, and all it does is cause endless frustration and an increased amount of stress.

Related: Forget Multitasking. Real Productivity Comes From Singletasking.

Multitasking is like cheating on your significant other

You'd probably agree that once you have fully decided to commit to a partner in life, it would be good advice to stop looking for a new partner, right? Guys, can you find someone prettier and smarter? Ladies, can you find someone more handsome and romantic? Probably, but that wouldn't be committing, now, would it?

In fact, to even have such a thought demonstrates unfaithfulness and a lack of commitment.

When you commit, you take everything that you have and you make everything you can out of it. You tell the world that you are "in all the way," that you have finished looking.

So, back to multitasking. Trying to do it is the same as trying to be committed to multiple partners. It's impossible and it just doesn't make any sense.

As self-made millionaire and entrepreneur extraordinaire Grant Cardone wrote in Sell or Be Sold, "Commitment is a personal thing and is the indisputable requirement for getting results in life and separating yourself from the herd . . . No commitment equals no results."

It is the average entrepreneur who does not commit to a given task and tries to multitask, knowing full well that that is impossible and accomplishes nothing. If you don't commit, you won't get results. If you don't get results, you end up getting burned out.

In fact, a professional entrepreneur is someone who commits and channels creative energy into one task at a time and doesn't move on to the next until the first one is totally complete. That's the kind of commitment that gets results.

So, again, it is not just the mechanics that can make your business hard to manage; it's your ability to focus. As Maltz discussed in his book, there's something called the servo-mechanism: This is a power each of us possesses. The servo-mechanism in essence, is our internal computer. When we attempt to multitask, we assign that mechanism multiple tasks all at once. This ultimately weakens its power and blocks us from performing at the peak of our true potential.

Related: Multitasking Doesn't Work. Use This 100-Year-Old Method to Get Stuff Done.

In sum, then, multitasking truly is a fallacy. Learn to commit to one task all the way to its completion before moving on to the next task, and watch for the results you really want to start to manifest in your business.

William Ballard

CEO and Founder of William Ballard Enterprise, LLC

William Ballard is the CEO of William Ballard Enterprise, where he blogs about writing, publishing, business, and entrepreneurship.

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