Mr. McMulti-Tasker

We have a lot to say.  And now, with social media, we have a way to say it to the world.  What an incredible privilege to live in a time when technology has made that possible.

But just because something is ‘possible’ doesn’t make it admirable….or productive.

I have heard and been involved in conversations when there is almost zero listening happening.  It sounds almost impossible but it’s not.  Here’s one of my favorite examples…ever happened to you?


Burger Man:  Welcome to Burger Prince, home of the Whopper, and the brand new hot and juicy, spicy chicken wing nugget thingamajig.  We appreciate your business and hope you’ll try our creamy, frosty dessert McSomething-or-other. Can I help you?

Ken:  Yes, I’m going to order three burgers and some drinks.  These will NOT be meals, okay?

Burger Man:  Thank you, go ahead…

Ken:  Could I have three McWahoo burgers with cheese and three Choka-Colas, please?

Burger Man:  Will these be meals or just sandwiches?

Ken:  ??? Uh, just sandwiches….???

Burger Man:  Would you like fries with that?

Ken:  No thanks, just the burgers and drinks.

Burger Man:  What kind of a burger did you want?

Ken:  There were three burgers, all McWahoo’s with cheese.

You get the picture.  Now in defense of Burger Man we live in an environment with tremendous distractions.  He is probably multi-tasking like crazy on the other side of the speaker, right?

Sometimes you may feel as though you don’t have time to stop everything and focus all of your attention on listening to just one thing, one subject, one human being.  But the truth is that a lot of time gets wasted when you are not focused on a single task.  Your time is wasted when you have to repeat simple rudimentary tasks over and over and over again….Burger Man.

Now hold on to your hat…I’m about to expose a myth. Ready?

There is no such thing as multi-tasking.

I repeat, there is no such thing as multi-tasking.  What we call multi-tasking is actually doing many things one after the other in quick succession with less focus on whether those things are actually getting done….Burger Man.  These tasks are not happening at the same time.  The human brain cannot be in two conscious places at the same time.  It can handle some unconscious tasks like breathing in the background…but not two conscious tasks.

My wish for the world is less “multi-tasking” (which we all now agree is a myth, right?) and more focused listening.  More absorption and less contribution to the conversation.  It’s counter-intuitive but you will be able to contribute greater substance to a conversation, be more persuasive,  and waste so much less of your precious time….by contributing less and listening and understanding more.

Now, be honest, and tell me how many other things you were doing and or thinking about as you read this short piece.

I’ll bet you thought you were “multi-tasking”….Burger Man.


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8 Replies to “Mr. McMulti-Tasker”

  1. In business… especially our line of work… I consider multitasking as the ability to recover quickly after a distraction. Or being able to effectively time manage… for instance… Dinner being ready just as you finish folding the last load of laundry (which honestly stays in the basket weeks on end).

  2. OMG happens all the time, and most of the time I want to say……did you not hear what I said. “Stop taking someone’s money and concentrate what I just ordered”. Unfortunately it doesn’t just happen at “Burger Whatever’s”. Even face to face encounters.

    Enjoy repeating myself, I do it enough!

    1. It is frustrating. After Kat read this post she immediately (probably correctly) accused me of being the worlds worst “multi-tasker”. My lawyer has advised me to make no further comment on the subject.

  3. Excellent read and whole heartedly agreed. One of my favorite quotes: “you can’t do big things if you are distracted by small things” is just another example of “multi-tasking”… on a totally different front and only because you used it as a primary theme; I absolutely despise when I order fast food and order; let’s say a… #11…….. and then get asked if I would like the burger or the meal. Sorry sir. I’ve never seen a #11 burger so let’s just go with the meal. So many microcosms for the direction of society. Sorry for the ramble, but thank you for another insightful piece that I will share.

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