no one multi tasks (serial tasking)

“Fucking two things up at the same time isn`t multitasking.”

Dick Masterson


Let me burst the bubble of elite Olympic level multi taskers around the world. You are not a multi tasker. In fact, unfortunately for you, there is no such thing as a multi tasker.

You, and every other so-called multitasker, are actually doing something called serial tasking.

Yup. The unfortunate truth is that even if you are ambidextrous you cannot engage in simultaneous tasks.

Of course, someone smarter than I is now going to send me an email and tell me who and how and when someone actually engages in simultaneous tasks <beyond walking and chewing gum>. Oh. And, no, if you start the laundry and go off and do something else that is not multi tasking — that is still serial tasking.

So let me say this. Suffice it to say the majority of us cannot actually do two things at the same time. And not only can most of us not do it, we don’t do it. While it may be fast shifting between tasks, and look like some derivative of multi tasking, we actually shift from specific task to specific task. In other words. We serial task.

I say that because then the discussion revolves around someone’s ability to focus and focus quickly.

Oh. And within this focus assimilate it, organize it and apply it and then move on to the next task.

<yikes … THAT sounds difficult>

I noted all of the above because those are the skills required to actually be a good <non> multi tasker. As you are shifting from one task to another to another in rapid succession you are attaching the appropriate amount of focus necessary to accommodate that task … and if you are really good at it … you attach the appropriate amount of focus to excel at that task.

Notice I didn’t say ‘time’; I said focus.focus

I say that because I sometimes think we confuse focus with time. People who can focus quickly and assimilate information properly don’t need a shitload of time.

Uh Oh. I guess that means I am suggesting that people who actually suck at serial tasking actually suck at focusing.



I am.

Assuming no one can really multi task … and someone can actually only be really good at serial tasking … that suggests not everyone can do it.

Hey. Here is the good news. You can control the whole tasking thing <as long as you don’t let yourself be ‘bullied’>.

“I want to lengthen, not shorten, my attention span, and most of the material splendors of the twenty-first century bully me in the opposite direction. The fault is mine, I’ll admit. I’m too slow-witted, reluctant to evolve, constitutionally unable to get with the program. I can’t afford the newest gadgets and I’m not a natural multitasker.”

Phillip Connors

A Life truth. The world doesn’t actually demand you serial task <despite how it may actually feel>. The world simply demands you excel at a task.

<ponder that for a moment … because I tend to believe we think we HAVE to multi task>

Its people who demand – of themselves – this whole serial tasking thing. Society doesn’t demand it <nor does it generally assess evaluations on how you are doing>.

Oddly enough while we so often rant and complain about too many things to do and the demands of everyday Life, the truth is we get judged on how well we actually do something — not how many things we do <ok, in business there is a balance>. But. Doing something, even if it is just one thing, matters.

But that’s a different post.


I am simply suggesting that no one multi tasks and that you can only be a good serial tasker.

In addition, if you want to be good at it, you need to be good at focusing on important details in a short period of time, assimilating them, completing the hugh be the only onetask and moving on.

If you can’t do that?

Well. You suck at not only multi tasking but serial tasking.

Remember. In the end. One thing at a time and focus. Whatever it is called is irrelevant.

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Written by Bruce