43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

43F Podcast: The Myth of Multi-tasking

The Myth of Multi-tasking (mp3)

43Folders.com - "Multi-taskers" are really just splitting their time and attention into smaller slices than you; no one can really do more than one thing at a time. (2:34)

powered by ODEO

Subscribe to the 43 Folders Podcast on Odeo.com Subscribe to the 43 Folders podcast in iTunes

stephen judd's picture

There's a lovely example...

There's a lovely example of the evils of multitasking in Goldratt's Critical Chain.

Suppose you have three things to deliver: A, B and C. Suppose they all take, I don't know, 2 days each to complete. If you did them one after the other, A will be finished by day 3, B by day 5, and C by day 7. AABBCC.

Now suppose you want to satisfy the people who commissioned B and C that you're paying attention to them, and you decide to multitask. So you decide to split things up, and work on them in one day blocks, ABCABC.

The result is that now A is delivered on day 5, two days later than before, and B is delivered on day 6, one day late, and C is delivered on day 7, no earlier than it was before. You've potentially pissed off two people for no benefit.

If you work through the example with shorter and shorter timeslices you can see that the more finegrained your multitasking, the later all the tasks become.

Of course it's worse in the real world because of the overhead of context switching, something computer scientists know all about.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »