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Book Review – Singletasking

Last updated on maart 25, 2020

Time to read 3 minutes

In late 2015, Devora Zack released her book Singletasking. Being larded with tips, the book reads like a plea for doing one thing at a time, all the time. She writes it in an engaging style, which made reading it a joy. Although the book is a repitition of itself (Zack says: ‘just do it!’ over and over again), at the end of it, I felt like YES, I can do this!

Book specs

© Myonlyconnect.com

Title: Singletasking
Author: Devora Zack
Publisher: Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Year of Release: 2015
Pages: 167

About Devora Zack

Devora Zack is the CEO of Only Connect Consulting. In this capacity she coaches companies on ‘how to work’, from singletasking to networking and from public speaking to time management. She deeply cares about singletasking and says she is an expert because she implemented in every part of her life.

The general idea of Singletasking

Well. It’s about… singletasking! The book breaks down a few myths. Of course, multitasking is a myth (as are open office spaces, but that’s my opinion, and not in the book). To Zack, multitasking is no more than, tot paraphrase Seneca, being everywhere, which means you are nowhere. Zack divides the book in three parts:

  • Part 1 is about the meaning of multitasking and singletasking.
  • Part 2 is about you, the reader, and how singletasking can help you take back control.
  • Part 3 is about discovering what is truly important to you.

In between emphasizing what good singletasking can bring to your life, Zack, challenges you in a number of quizzes and shares a lot of tiny tips to get into the habit of singletasking.

The myth of multitasking

Deep down, I think we all know that we can not multitask, not even women. Women have the competence to switch between tasks really quickly. But that’s it, Zack explains, because once you’re switching between two tasks that are too closely related or require a lot of focus, things become messy. Like texting someone while driving. Yet we still do it. Distraction is to blame, according to Zack. We master the skill of driving, so it gets a bit boring. In comes distraction.

Multitasking

In the office, multitasking results in lower productivity. You either never really finish something, or with less attention and are left with a ‘meh’-feeling. So, says Zack, with all your might, stop doing it! Choose singletasking. She asks you to think about your technology demons – a thing she clearly sees as a threat to leading a productive lifestyle.

What I liked about the book is that Zack uses real life examples and different scenarios to get her point across. It worked for me. It’s going to be fun to try out friendly responses to seemingly urgent matters: “Okay, I can do this now, but by wanting this, you’re also telling me to stop working on an imporrtant report you needed me to finish by tomorrow. So, what would you like me to do?”

Eye-opener(s)

Honestly, I did not learn too much that was new. However, after reading it, I felt like: I can do this. I CAN singletask. And more importantly: I want to. The book put me on the path of implementing an out of office reply for my colleagues, so I am able to singletask during the day. I also wanted to be more present in meetings and conversations – even though I’m already pretty good at not reading or writing emails, during one, the urge is there. All in all, Singletasking inspired me.

To wrap things up, I found this quote about the book fitting:

“Don’t let Zack’s lighthearted tone fool you—Singletasking is backed by hard science, and this book’s pragmatic advice can really change your work and your life.”

– David Bach

Published inFocus and Habits

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