I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the idea of multitasking. I know that it’s mostly a myth (you don’t really “multitask”, you just “switch between different tasks quickly”), but I also have three monitors on my desk.
That said, this is a reason why I enjoy devices like the reMarkable tablet and the Kindle Scribe, as they help me focus on a single task with no notifications or interruptions getting in my way. In David Clark’s book “Tao of Charlie Munger“, a few quotes from Charlie are shared along these lines.
First, we have this from Charlie:
“Look at this generation, with all of its electronic devices and multitasking. I will confidently predict less success than Warren, who just focused on reading. If you want wisdom, you’ll get it sitting on your ass. That’s the way it comes.”
David shares that reading personal biographies was a huge piece of what Charlie (as well as Warren Buffett) attribute much of their success to.
The second quote from Charlie is much shorter, but I really liked David’s commentary about it. Charlie simply says “I think people who multitask pay a huge price.“, but David explains:
“Many people believe that when they multitask, they are being superproductive. Charlie believes that if you don’t have time to think about something deeply, you are giving your competitors, who are thinking deeply, a great advantage over you. Charlie’s ability to focus intensely and really think about something has been his competitive edge in beating Wall Street at its own game.”
There are large parts of my day where “multitasking” is the right move. Jumping from email to email, helping our team in Slack, hopping on a call with a client, etc. The problems begin when that’s all you’re able to do. If you can’t find some consistent time to get away and just think (like a clarity break), that can be problematic.
Depending on your role and your stage in life, that can be tough to do, but working to find time to make it happen can pay huge dividends.