Dave Crenshaw on the Cost of Multitasking

Dave Crenshaw Author

A highly sought-after author, speaker, and online trainer, Dave Crenshaw is the master of building productive leaders. Dave Crenshaw’s humorous and entertaining approach consistently hits the mark with audiences. His speeches are described as dynamic and life-changing. He also frequently appears in the news worldwide, including TIME magazineFast CompanyUSA Today and the BBC News. However, Dave is most proud of being cited by Chuck Norris in The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book.

He is the founder and CEO of Invaluable Inc., a coaching and training corporation that has helped build productive leaders around the world. Crenshaw received his degree in Business Management-Entrepreneurship from the Marriott School at Brigham Young University and was mentored and taught by many serial entrepreneurs, including Larry H. Miller, former owner of the Utah Jazz NBA basketball franchise. He began his coaching career in 1998 as the youngest independent consultant for one of the world’s largest business coaching firms.

Could you share a bit about what inspired you to write The Myth of Multitasking?

Early on in my career, I realized that I was personally having an issue with time management and organization. I was diagnosed as “off the charts ADHD.” On top of that, I was coaching small business owners, who as a group are some of the most disorganized, crazy busy people in the world. As I worked with them, I discovered that fragmented attention was their problem. One that I also faced with ADHD. So I created a program to help both them and myself get control of things, which later on led to the Myth of Multitasking.

The writing style in this book is quite unique compared to a majority of other nonfiction and self-help books. You create a story and weave advice and real-world examples through interactions between characters, namely Phil and Helen. What was the motivation to use this particular literary tactic?

The first is that the story of the Myth of Multitasking is based 100% on real-world examples. I’m the stand-in for Phil, and Helen represents many of the people that I was coaching at the time. First, that just made it easier for me to write the book using that method. Second, the book’s purpose is to convince the skeptics of what multitasking—or more accurately switch-tasking—is costing them. I felt that telling a story was the best way to achieve that goal.

Do you think the increasingly remote workspace many of us are finding ourselves in as a result of the pandemic has affected how we manage our day?

Remote work has made the challenge of attempting to multitask even worse than it was before. The main reason is a lack of boundaries in our day. If we work from home, the commute may be a few steps from our bedroom to our office, or even our office is in our bedroom! This has led to people working longer hours than they did previously and having a feeling of decreased work-life balance. Tackling and addressing the Myth of Multitasking becomes even more important in this situation.

What do you feel is the hardest part of managing distractions during the work day?

The biggest challenge that I see people face is not necessarily from the external distractions—although those can be a big challenge. I think most people are having a hard time saying no to themselves, whether that’s chasing every idea that comes into their head, or they’re not establishing boundaries for when work ends, and their personal life begins. A big part of taking control is just learning how to say no to ourselves.

In The Myth of Multitasking, busybody Helen is struggling with time management. Has there ever been a time where you felt like a Helen? How has your own advice been of benefit to you?

Although Helen is an avatar for the people I’ve coached, I can certainly relate to those feelings. As I mentioned, I was diagnosed with ADHD, and it’s extremely easy to feel that disorganized. My office workspace used to be a disaster. Thankfully, I’ve learned the most by teaching, and what I’ve taught others has helped me, as well.

What has been your experience teaching these productivity strategies? Do you find that people are often change averse?

Overall, my experience has been amazing. The most rewarding work that I do is when I feel like I’ve helped someone change their life. That’s typically been my experience. When I do find resistance to the positive change the book talks about, it usually comes down to people priding themselves on their ability to multitask. When someone has spent their whole life defining their value in terms of how busy they are, they can be very resistant to the idea. I encourage them to replace the busy-ness badge with productivity, as well as grasping the idea that the two are not the same.

Have you ever mentored someone one-on-one like Phil? If so, what were some of the changes you observed in them and what was it like to watch them grow?

Yes, the longest part of my career has been working with people one-on-one. In most cases, they’ve been able to get more done in less time and experience much less stress. They’ve also increased their relationships with people. That’s one of the hidden costs of multitasking that I discuss in the book. The fact that when we multitask on people, we’re telling them that they’re less important. It’s fun to see people rebuild relationships that may have been neglected in the past.

How have you been nourishing your soul during these difficult times?

I’ve been making sure that I’m taking time for fun, spending time with my family, and exploring new ways to help change people’s lives.

Rapid-fire questions:

Most recent book you read? Finding Confidence in Conflict by Kwame Christian

Favorite form of recreation? Playing video games on my Xbox

Pancakes or waffles? Pancakes with pure maple syrup

Place you’d most like to visit? We had a Europe trip planned with my family until COVID happened, so I’m looking forward to being able to actually take that trip soon.

Go-to coffee or tea order? I don’t drink coffee or tea. My go-to drink is flavored sparkling waters. Waterloo Blueberry is amazing!

The Myth of Multitasking

How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done

Productivity and effective time management end with multitasking. The false idea that multitasking is productive has become even more prevalent and damaging to our productivity and well-being since the first edition of The Myth of Multitasking was published in 2008. In this revised and updated second edition, author and productivity expert Dave Crenshaw provides a solution for the chaos of distraction that multitasking creates―and a way to combat the temptation to constantly switch between tasks.

Learn how to actually get things done. Dave Crenshaw takes the idea of multitasking as a productivity tool and smashes it to smithereens. But rather than leaving you with the burden of wading through the wreckage all by yourself, he shows you how to focus, move forward, and free up more time for what you value the most.

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