In this episode, unpack the reality that career success breeds career chaos. Dave Crenshaw has tens of millions of views of his productivity courses on LinkedIn Learning to help solve the problem of multitasking for engineers (and everyone else!).
He was not born with it. Dave has overcome being diagnosed “freaking off the chart ADHD.” He has stripped down success in time management to only what is absolutely necessary. Now he coaches leaders at the highest level to reclaim their life by reclaiming their hours.
The Happy Engineer Podcast
WATCH EPISODE 3 INTERVIEW
LISTEN TO EPISODE 3 INTERVIEW WITH ZACH’S DEBRIEF
EPISODE INSIGHTS ON MULTITASKING FOR ENGINEERS
How can I increase my value per hour? That is Dave Crenshaw’s specialty. Author, speaker, online instructor – what doesn’t this guy do? I’m excited to have Dave Crenshaw as our guest for episode three of The Happy Engineer Podcast.
But back to this idea of value. I totally agree with Dave that we want to look at this in terms of dollars per hour. And you know, sometimes there’s a resistance inside of us when it comes to money. To desire to increase our income. It feels selfish. Maybe it feels a little yucky to you too.
Or maybe you’re on the opposite side of that, and you absolutely love the idea of maximizing your income. Regardless of which side you’re on, the key question here is important. Like we discuss in this episode…
If you’re earning $200,000 a year working 80 hours a week, and the person on your left is earning $200,000 a year working 30 or 35 hours a week, who would you say is the most successful?
And it’s an obvious answer. If you can drive that income in a fraction of the time, you’re being more productive. You’re creating the freedom to either pursue additional income, if that is your vision and goal, or to spend that extra time and energy in other areas of your life. In the other buckets that really matter. And when you can eliminate, automate or delegate those low-value tasks, you free up capacity to put more of your time and energy into those high dollar-per-hour tasks.
Remember, what you focus on is what you get more of. Where your focus goes, your energy flows, and that’s what you create.
Understand what is really driving the value, and then relentlessly focus on eliminating it, automating or delegating those low value tasks. Focus more time and energy on high value activities.
The value of our action correlates to our next subject, multitasking for engineers. Dave is a voice of reason in this realm and has a data-driven perspective about multitasking. So if you come into this episode with a belief system about multitasking that says, “You know, I’m great at this. And multitasking is a thing that really works.” Go listen, and put a nail in this coffin once and for all.
First, multitasking is the wrong word. Dave splits this into two different words, one of which is “switch tasking.” I love the way that Dave explained this, and you’ll learn that switch tasking always comes at a cost. It ALWAYS comes at a cost. If you are on a zoom meeting, or an in-person meeting in the room, and you’re on your phone, you’re on your email, you’re working on some other topic or problem at the same time… you are paying a price. There is a cost to that. There is no way around it and the data is clear.
Listen to the full episode to get the other half of the story.
When we stop believing the myth of multitasking and implement personal productivity strategies, our life changes. I’ve seen this unfold in the lives of my Clients at OACO over and over again.
If you need support, set up a free call today. If you don’t have a coach, get one. Move your own career and life out of that place of chaos and move toward mastering focus. Also, connect with Dave. He’s got amazing material on LinkedIn Learning and elsewhere.
ABOUT DAVE CRENSHAW
Dave Crenshaw develops productive leaders in Fortune 500 companies, universities, and organizations of every size. He has appeared in Time magazine, USA Today, FastCompany, and the BBC News. His courses on LinkedIn Learning have been viewed tens of millions of times.
His five books have been published in eight languages, the most popular of which is The Myth of Multitasking—a time management bestseller. As an author, speaker, and online instructor, Dave has transformed the lives and careers of hundreds of thousands around the world.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Dave Crenshaw on LinkedIn Learning
- The Myth of Multitasking book on Amazon
- Dave Crenshaw on LinkedIn
- Dave Crenshaw on Instagram
- Home page for Dave Crenshaw online
- Need help with how to take action on this episode? Stop multitasking right now, book a FREE call and let’s get clarity on your next steps.
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.
[00:00:00] Zach White: [00:00:00] Welcome back friends. Awesome to be with you. I’m here today with Dave Crenshaw and I love this guy. I’ve been following him for a long time. Dave develops productive leaders in fortune 500 companies, universities and organizations of every size. Appear in time magazine USA today, fast company, the BBC news loads of other amazing places.
[00:00:24] You can find his content, including his courses on LinkedIn learning, which have been viewed. Get this tens of millions of times. I count for one of those tens of millions and his five books have been published in eight languages. The most popular of which I’ve gotten my hands right here is the myth of multitasking.
Expand to Read Full Transcript
[00:01:03] Yeah. Thanks for having me on. It’s a pleasure. So Dave, the engineer listening to this can deeply relate to productivity and in a job related sense, we’re constantly hacking away for that 1% improvement, knocking a few seconds off our production cycle times. But what I thought would be interesting to hear from you because of your expertise is this idea that you talk about that there’s three different kinds of people when it comes to productivity.
[00:01:30] Can you just introduce that? And maybe we can figure out as an engineer. Do I fall into today? Yeah.
[00:01:36] Dave Crenshaw: [00:01:36] So when I first start working with someone, whether they’re going through my courses or I’m doing private consulting, I find that , uh, people are on this spectrum of chaos on one side and focus on the other.
[00:01:48] And everyone listening to this fits somewhere on the spectrum. So on the, on the far side of focus, this. Always been organized. You’ve always been on top of every single thing that comes into your day. You’ve never been late and it’s almost from birth. That is the focus master. And when I go, I speak to audiences all around the world and I’ll ask people to identify how many of you identify with what I just described?
[00:02:13] It’s usually about two to 3% of people fit into the focus master category. And on the other side, the far end of the spectrum is the chaos master. This is something. Who’s never been organized, never been on top of things. They’re always scattered attention. And then in the middle is where most people fit, which is I called them the nomad and they have the heart and soul of a focus master, but they lost their way somewhere along the lines, you know, maybe within the last 10 years or so, something happened in their life and career where all of a sudden chaos started to creep in.
[00:02:47] And depending on where you are on the spectrum, What I’m teaching has a different , uh, way of helping people.
[00:02:55] Zach White: [00:02:55] Something happened to knock them off their way. Dave, what are the kinds of things that people experience that kicks them off of focus, starting down that path towards chaos? What are those moments in people’s lives?
[00:03:10] Dave Crenshaw: [00:03:10] Well, the biggest thing is when they start to let technology run their life, rather than using technology to be productive, the part of the problem with all the tools that we have, they’re not necessarily the, the issue what’s the issue is that we have not evolved as quickly as they have to keep up with it.
[00:03:32] So when we start allowing, for instance, our email to constantly pop up, we’re hitting, send, and receive, send, and receive all day long. Or every single text message comes in notifies us. We are cultivating the habit of being disorganized of being chaotic also, and this probably applies to a lot of people who are watching, listening to this , uh, advancements in career.
[00:03:53] It’s easy to stay organized when you’re only required to do one thing and one thing only, but the moment you start to become a manager, the moment you start to become an entrepreneur, the moment you move up the ladder, you’re actually putting more and more responsibility on your shoulders. And this is one of the great ironies or the paradoxes of success that, that career success breeds career chaos.
[00:04:19] The better you do. The more chaotic. It becomes, I think a lot of people think about it and they go, ah, that’s, it’s the opposite, right? I’m going to have more money. I’m going to have more free time. I’m going to, I’m going to get promoted. But the opposite is actually true. It ends up eating up our day in our attention.
[00:04:35] And so even the most, most focused of focus matters. Starts to become more and more and more like a chaos master every day.
[00:04:45] Zach White: [00:04:45] This mindset shift for, you know, for the senior engineer, the, the high performing individual contributor. Who’s listening to this. I really want them to hear the power of what you just said, because there is a belief.
[00:04:58] Yeah, man. If I could just get to that manager level and I have a team of people who can do this work, you know, that’s going to be so much easier than, or maybe, you know, you’re at a manager and you’re stuck in middle management. And you think if, if I could just get that director promotion and let the middle management take care of everything, it’s going to be so much easier.
[00:05:17] Career success, breeds, career chaos. And I think that popped in my mind when you said that the, the compounding of the, to the promotion self, and then we try to solve it by throwing more technology into our approach. So, so if this is the first time somebody is thinking this way, like, how do you avoid.
[00:05:41] Getting into that downward spiral of these two things, the desire for promotions and the chaos that, that automatically triggers and maybe our default approach to actually throw more chaos into the mix by how do you undo or stop that downward spiral?
[00:05:58] Dave Crenshaw: [00:05:58] Well, the beautiful thing is I’m talking to a group of people right now who understand the value of systems, right?
[00:06:04] Processes, procedures, putting everything together in an organized format. So what the solution is for you to take the time to step aside, get out of that crazy waterfall. That is the, your Workday. And establish personal productivity systems. This means starting from the ground up, looking at every aspect of your day, everything from, how do I respond to email to where did I put that piece of paper that I got this receipt that someone gave me.
[00:06:35] And you, you analyze every single part of the process and rebuild the way that you’re going to be productive and do it in a way that is suited to you. And really, you know, you mentioned my courses on LinkedIn learning. That’s what I’m doing with people. I’m helping them in my, for instance, in my time management fundamentals course, how to create.
[00:06:55] A customized time management system to them. And then I have another course called finding your time management style, where that’s, where you start to understand how do I like to work in my day? And then you use the customizations from that too, really, really get it to be a perfect fit. And that really is part of the problem that a lot of people have is they, they read it.
[00:07:14] Or they hear someone else’s thing and they try to force themselves into that system. But instead, what you want to do is say, what is the way that I inherently like to work? How can I make that system work for me? Not the other way around, but it does take a pause. It does take, it takes time to make time.
[00:07:35] So we need that break.
[00:07:37] Zach White: [00:07:37] We’ll put links to those courses on multitasking for engineers in the show notes, and for people listening, go check out Dave’s courses. I mean, he’s provided so much value in there, but let’s back up a second. Yes. The engineer listening loves systems and they’re probably geeking out at this right now. Like, oh, I’ve just found my, I found my guy that he’s speaking my language.
[00:07:56] You don’t come from an engineering background. Like how did you stumble into this awareness and really become focused on personal productivity systems? What was that journey like?
[00:08:09] Dave Crenshaw: [00:08:09] So I’ll try to be as concise with this as it can be. But I started out growing up around entrepreneurs and I don’t know if you’ve heard of the serial entrepreneur, right?
[00:08:19] That’s the person who successfully starts companies over and over. I grew up around serial killer entrepreneurs. These are people who unsuccessfully started companies over and over and over. And so I grew up with a fear of that, of wanting to not have that happen. So. It was one of those things where you have a morbid fascination of something was terrible growing up.
[00:08:41] So I, I studied entrepreneurship and then I started coaching entrepreneurs at a very young age. In fact, before I, I. Uh, coached , uh, before I completed college, I’m 46 right now. So it was almost exactly half of my lifetime, about 23 years ago. Um, but what I found in working with these individuals was that the number one problem that they had.
[00:09:03] Was time management. They were disorganized. They were all out of place. It didn’t matter what I told them to do to work on their career on their business. They couldn’t execute it because they just didn’t have time. So I put together a program to try and help them, but also to help me, because one thing that’s really different when it comes to me versus other time managers.
[00:09:23] Gurus whatever word you want to use is that I was diagnosed as a, and this is word for word with psychologist said freaking off the charts, ADHD. So I had to help myself and I had to. These other people, these people that I was coaching. And so I created a program that was based on some of the greatest time management philosophy out there, but stripped it down and only left what was absolutely necessary.
[00:09:51] And that led to my book, the myth of multitasking that led to my courses on LinkedIn learning. And that’s really the program that so many people use now. So it started out. Out of helping people who were inherently disorganized become organized,
[00:10:07] Zach White: [00:10:07] Freaking off the chart. Yep. ADHD. So we got to unpack that a little bit.
[00:10:14] What was the trigger to even get tested or the discovery of that? Dave? How did that time of life look?
[00:10:22] Dave Crenshaw: [00:10:22] You know, I heard two words that changed my life. And the words were I’m pregnant. And when it really, so I think at the time I was, I was still trying to be a rock star. I had a band, I had been jumping around from career to career, to career all over the place.
[00:10:41] And then I heard those words and I was like, I’m going to be a father soon. And then I started to think about my own father and to his dying day, he passed away about four or five years ago. He never, ever, ever broke that prep. Of being disorganized of, of jumping from career to career. I mean, his, his method of organization was to throw everything in a black past a black plastic bag.
[00:11:04] And if he couldn’t remember what was in it a year later, he’d throw it away. So I was like, I can’t do that, that I need to set a better example. I want to provide for this life that’s coming in. So that’s what I went out and sought up the help of a psychologist. And I said, look, here’s all the, here are all the things that are happening.
[00:11:22]Uh, in my life, I saw it in my father and he, so he gave me a couple of tests. Yeah. He gave me one test. He was like, this is, I can’t believe what you just gave me. I have to give you a second test. He gave me the second test and that’s when he said, when he said he also added to it. If there were a fifth standard deviation, you’d be okay.
[00:11:41] I can say with 99.9, 9% accuracy, you’ve got ADHD. So that was really the turning point in my life was just finding out that I was going to be okay.
[00:11:54] The six Sigma guys are out there cheering like Dave made it to the fifth standard deviation
[00:11:59]Zach White: [00:11:59] exactly.
[00:12:01] Which chapter of your book does the black plastic bag system fall? I’m not sure. I don’t remember that page. No man. So, so that’s a really. I mean, that’s a tough moment to be in it. Just kind of get labeled and diagnosed and there’s people I say, well, wow.
[00:12:19] What did that, what did that do to you? What was the impact of awareness of that for you? Was it a relief to just understand this part of, of how you had lived? Or was it scary? Like, what was that response to being told? Hey, you’re, you’re off the chart on this ADHD scale. What was that like for you?
[00:12:38] Dave Crenshaw: [00:12:38] It was liberating because it gave me.
[00:12:41] It gave me something to tackle, whereas before it was just sort of this general feeling that what I was doing was not correct. Uh, and I mentioned how I started out with business coaching so that the band thing, the music thing, and also the jumping around from recruiter career came after that. And so what happened was when I had that target, I said, you know what?
[00:13:02] I have a good background in business system. In productivity and how and creating structure to help someone succeed. So I’m going to use that background to create. Systems for myself. Uh, but without that knowledge of what it was I was dealing with, I didn’t have a target to tackle. So it was very helpful.
[00:13:24] And, and by the way, for people listening to this, I highly recommend working with a therapist. I think that’s one of the, if that’s not just a personal thing, that’s a career thing because many of the mistakes that we make in our day-to-day personal life are reflected in our career.
[00:13:43] Zach White: [00:13:43] Thanks for saying that Dave, I agree a hundred percent and working with, you know, therapist after my divorce was extremely powerful for healing in my own life and moving forward.
[00:13:53] And you know, I believe now the best time to see a therapist is when you don’t need one, you know, and go start that process. But the other thing, just to acknowledge your courage in facing that diagnosis from the mindset of growth, a target and not letting it become. A permanent label of what’s your capability and potential is.
[00:14:15] And so for the, you know, the engineer listening to this, maybe you’ve been labeled in some way in your life, in the past, or even just recently, you know, just be inspired by Dave’s response. To the awareness, it gave relief and a target. And so the journey to the target, then what was, is it, is it linear? Is it the nice straight line?
[00:14:37] All the engineers here, dealing with multitasking for engineers, hope it is, or what was it actually like the road to becoming now a true productivity expert and coach teacher trainer for all of us? Like how did that unfold?
[00:14:49] Dave Crenshaw: [00:14:49] Well, it’s certainly not linear probably looks more like a stock market chart. Uh, and, and in fact, that’s something that I talk about.
[00:14:54]Uh, with people when they’re struggling with this kind of progress, is that we’re looking for the general trend. The general trend is what matters, not the individual ups and downs along the way. And so for me, the general trend was always outward, but it was up and down and all over the place. Uh, so. You know, it’s interesting.
[00:15:13] I have a, I have a course it’ll be coming out probably by the time this releases , uh, or if not very soon after called , uh, turning weaknesses into strengths. And one of the things that I say, and this, this applies whether you have ADHD or whatever it is that you’re dealing with , uh, weaknesses do not make you weak.
[00:15:27] It’s what you do with them that matters. And similarly strengths do not make you strong. I see lots of people who, you know, they’re, they have lots of natural gifts, but they don’t apply , uh, that when they don’t enhance it or work on it. So no matter what it is that your challenge is you want to make a commitment.
[00:15:47] To daily growth or probably weekly growth is a better way to put it. For instance, you have a weekly schedule where you’re going to sit down and you’re going to study something else and enhance your, yourself and your career. Uh, yeah, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap that education ended when I got out of college.
[00:16:05] But education. I mean, I guess it’s a good thing. We already know Zac that anyone listening to this already has the right mindset because they’re trying to improve themselves by listening to your, to your excellent podcast. So I would just say, add to that, make a learning regimen every week part of it. So you can always keep moving forward.
[00:16:22] Zach White: [00:16:22] So Dave, if somebody listening to this falls into the chaos master category, they’re hearing this conversation, it sounds like we’re making the claim, Hey, you want to be on the focus side of the spectrum and they might look around their desk and it’s a disaster, but they’re that person who has lived their whole life saying.
[00:16:42] Yeah, but I know. Where everything is. I’m so good at this. And I don’t need any of these productivity, personal, you know, personal productivity systems. I don’t need this, you know, they’re tempted to stop listening right now. Like what would you say to that person who has survived or even created a certain level of success in their life, in a constant state of chaos?
[00:17:04] Why invest the energy? To move in this direction of focus.
[00:17:09] Dave Crenshaw: [00:17:09] Yeah. I would say that you’ve achieved success in spite of your tendencies, not because of them. Uh, and if you’re, if you, you know, if they’re seeing this video, you can see my office. This is not a background. This is my actual home office, but when I started it looked, it was just a war zone.
[00:17:25] Like you had to use a shovel to get from the front door to the desk. It was, it was absolutely terrifying. And when you live in it, Recognize the stress that it’s causing and the mental burden that it places on you. I don’t like organization for organization stakes. Now this looks really, really nice here.
[00:17:48] But part of the reason is because I hired an interior decorator. I mean, this has been an evolutionary process for me. I’m not so interested in things looking nice for organization sake. I like them to be organized because it’s fast. Because it’s easier because it puts less stress on me. And when you have the ability to go into a space where you feel like, you know what, there’s nothing unresolved in here.
[00:18:15] There’s nothing that needs my attention. Other than what I’m going to think about right now, I’m going to think some, some great thoughts. I’m going to try and solve a problem. You want to have a work environment that does. Place additional, additional psychological baggage in your head. It’s hard enough right now in the, in the technology driven interruption driven world that we live in to just keep up with that.
[00:18:41] So don’t place the additional handicap on yourself that, that clutter,
[00:18:49] Zach White: [00:18:49] one of the things I share with all my clients at a OACO day, You show up wanting promotion or more income or some form of career success. And that’s why you hire a coach, but I remind them, we need to coach the whole person. You can’t show up an only coach, a single career strategy and leave all these other areas of your life untouched.
[00:19:12] And one of the things that you talk about that I think is really powerful. I’d love to hear your perspective on this is that. Getting out of chaos and into focus, becoming more productive, avoiding multitasking for engineers, getting organized. It’s not just about you and your own life and success, but it impacts the people around you and your relationships helped me understand the link.
[00:19:37] Dave Crenshaw: [00:19:37] Well, so there, there are lots of different things that I studied in relation to this. I have a book called the power of having fun. That one of the things that I discovered was there’s this model called the work home resources model. And basically it says the more security, the more, the more support that you feel at home and I’m including like your friends.
[00:19:56] Hack your pets, whatever it is, the more stability you feel there, the more stability you feel at work and vice versa, the more power power is not the right word, but the more , um, strength you filled, one area gives you strength in the other. So that’s part of it. The other part of it is , um, the, the balance that occurs when you build relationships with other people , uh, work.
[00:20:22] Is valuable and work has its place, but you also have life outside of it. And you want to feel that that’s rewarding. Uh, so a big part of what I’m talking about with people is saying. Your, your work exists to serve your life. If it’s getting in the way of the things that you really want to do most, if it’s dragging your energy down, if it’s causing you stress, what is the point of this?
[00:20:47] Why are we doing all of this work? So we have to find meaning every day and yeah. What we’re accomplishing and we have to feel that what we’re accomplishing is giving us the quality of life we want to have. Now, sometimes people ask me, Dave, what, what’s your definition of success? To me, success is having the ability to live the kind of life you want to live.
[00:21:11] And in other words, it’s not a. You know, achieving a certain income level. It’s not about having a certain amount of money in the bank, although things are, are, and can be a total important. The real question is if you’re honest with yourself and you said, what kind of life do I want to live? Am I able to live that life right now?
[00:21:30] Not in the future, not in retirement, right? That is the question you want to solve. Hmm.
[00:21:37] Zach White: [00:21:37] I love that. That the one day when syndrome is a plague amongst engineers, who I work with and just listen to what Dave just said, there am I able to live and experience and enjoy the life that I desire? The fulfillment, the meaning, the purpose that is mine right now.
[00:21:59] And if the answer is no. Dave, what would you say is the very next step for someone? If they honestly say no, I’m not able to do that. Where would they go? First start small,
[00:22:10] Dave Crenshaw: [00:22:10] pick one thing and schedule 20 minutes in your day to do that thing and make a commitment. Uh, taking a break, having fun enjoying life is not something that you get to do after you’re caught up on work the longer, as long as you think that way you will never ever be able to do it because there’s always more work.
[00:22:29] So instead say, you know what, at I’ll give you one example , uh, uh, a couple that I worked with, they said, you know what? There were a power couple. They were always talking about work when they were together. And I said, what are you guys both like in common? We both like survivor, so, okay, great. Let’s make an appointment between you two to watch survivor at a consistent part.
[00:22:51] They were watching the rerun so they could do it every day. Right? So they had it at a consistent time. And that’s one little thing I said during that time, you don’t talk about work. You don’t think about work. You just enjoy watching this together, watching survivor for that period of time saved their marriage.
[00:23:08] And not only that, but it helps their career because of that work, home resources model. They started to realize, you know what? I do have something other than that. Now, of course, they went on to enjoy other things in their life, not just watching some crazy TV show, but that’s where it starts just a small commitment to doing something that you enjoy and you keep that appointment sacred.
[00:23:31] Zach White: [00:23:31] There it is. I think that’s, that is such a powerful insight. We make the destination such a big thing. Sometimes just take that small 20 minute actions starting every day. That that’s amazing. So listeners, that’s the only thing you do out of this. That’ll change your life right there. I can’t let us not talk about multitasking, Dave.
[00:23:51] You sure? Was amazing. I love it. The myth of multitasking. If you haven’t bought a copy and you’re listening to this, go out and get it right now, we’ll put a link in the show notes to do that, but. Multitasking as a topic gets debated all the time. And I still have engineers come into my program who say, I am a multi-tasker, it’s one of my strengths.
[00:24:14] There’s this belief system that there’s this select group of people who are so great at it and they’re special and that they ought to operate that way because it’s their gift. Yeah. I just would love to hear straight from the guy who has as, as beautifully script, hit a book on it. I mean, it is, it is as crisp as I’ve ever seen.
[00:24:33] I love the way you talk about it. So Dave, like what’s the truth.
[00:24:37] Dave Crenshaw: [00:24:37] Okay. The easiest way to get out of this argument is to sidestep it completely multitasking the word itself. Is the problem because it’s one word that’s trying to describe multiple complex processes that might be taking place in your brain.
[00:24:55] Stop thinking in terms of multitasking. And instead think in terms of these two words, switch tasking or back tasking switch tasking is when you’re trying to perform multiple attention requiring tasks at the same time, that would be like listening to this. Well answering email. And if you’re switch tasking, you are paying switching costs or that has, you know, if you have any background in economics, that’s a loaded phrase because switching costs means you have to pay a cost greater than just what you did.
[00:25:27] Meaning every time you switch attention, there’s a, there’s a cognitive load. There’s a drop in time. There’s an increase in mistakes is an increase in mistake in stress levels that you experience. So switch tasks. Is always counterproductive or at least it always has a cost associated with this. Now back tasking is where something mindless, mundane or automatic occurs in the background.
[00:25:51] For instance, you’re jogging while listening to this podcast that can be produced. Because one of the things is automatic. It requires no attention. Therefore you are getting more productive. So really the question that I would ask if someone came to you, Zack, and they said, I’m a great multi-tasker I would say, do you mean you’re a great switch test?
[00:26:15] Or do you mean you’re a great back task because back tasking is, is important. That’s delegating a project to someone else while they’re working on one thread of an engineering project while you’re working on something else that is good. That is productive. But if they’re talking about trying to have multiple things happening, they’re requiring attention, they’re getting them.
[00:26:35] The evidence is absolutely overwhelming. My, so what you held in your hand is the second edition. The myth of multitasking, the first edition came out in 2008. At that time, there were a lot of studies, maybe, I don’t know, 10 to 20 studies that exist. We’re now in 2021, there are hundreds of studies. There are, there’s a preponderance of evidence that says when you try to accomplish multiple attention requiring tasks at the same time, You are being less productive.
[00:27:06] Zach White: [00:27:06] So this is a really powerful distinction. And I love that I love is sidestepping the argument altogether. So for the person who believes. If you’re listening to this and you believe that you are somehow special or unique in switch tasking, that you can actively respond to an important email while you’re listening to Dave.
[00:27:27] And I talk about why you should not be doing that. The evidence is clear. That is not. The way that our brain is intended to operate for ultimate productivity. I see you. You’ve got something on the topic.
[00:27:41] Dave Crenshaw: [00:27:41] I have one thing to that too. Interesting. My own backyard, university of Utah, there’s a research place.
[00:27:46] They’ve done lots of studies. Here’s the funny thing about. The more someone thinks that they are excellent at multitasking. There is a correlation between them being more likely to be terrible at it. So the more proud you are thinking you’re a multitasker, I can pretty much guarantee you’re probably one of the worst there is at it.
[00:28:06] Zach White: [00:28:06] That that is amazing. I can’t wait to share that with the people who come to Waco and make that claim, you know, I’m going to tell Dave Crenshaw told me you are probably the worst at this is amazing. I saw, and this may even be an outdated number day, but you had 28% as an average knowledge worker, the losses from those switching costs in the workplace from those interruptions, those switches, those, you know, email to conversation to text, to meeting to 28%, maybe that’s that’s.
[00:28:39] Yeah. Outdated now, but yeah, this is a big number, especially for an engineer who gets paid unbelievable money to go solve problems that are just a fraction of a penny or a percent in the work that we do. And here we’re leaving 28% or more on the table, just because of our behavior as chaos masters, you know, is that still true today? Is multitasking for engineers still this big of a problem?
[00:29:02] And, and what are people doing to solve that problem?
[00:29:06] Dave Crenshaw: [00:29:06] Well, so that number comes from a study by base X research , uh, that, that was with the first edition. And I still quote it because I think it’s a great number. However, I would say that that number has dramatically increased over time. I would probably put it closer to 35, maybe 40% of last time.
[00:29:24] And this is not time spent. I don’t know. Taken around playing video games on your computer. I’m talking about time lost in the scenes. If we just took that number 28%, that is one word. Every single month, if you have people on your team, that means that one quarter roughly of their time is just wasted.
[00:29:47] It’s just garbage. And the reason why it’s happening is because of the way that they are allowing. Attention switches to creep into their day. Um, I w so again, I would say, you know, it’s closer to 35 to 40%, which is the interesting thing is when people go through my time management training program, typically they’re recovering in the neighborhood of 40 extra disposable hours every month.
[00:30:13] And I like to emphasize that because sometimes when people hear about time management like us, or is time management, I say, okay, what would you do with an extra 40 hours every week? And I hear things like spend more time with hobbies, spend more time with family, get some sleep, you know, educate myself, whatever it is I say, great.
[00:30:30] This issue is about that. What you just put down, whatever it is you wish you could do. If you had an extra 40 hours every month, that’s why you want to go through this training. That’s why you want to tackle this.
[00:30:44] Zach White: [00:30:44] You know, this might be a perfect transition then Dave, to the question I always like to finish with.
[00:30:49] And I mean, first of all, there’s so much. Powerful things to explore in this space and for the engineer listening, I hope that you’ll take this to heart 40 hours a month of disposable, not like somewhat unproductive time. We’re talking about genuinely lost time. That you can recover and apply to something meaningful in your life, whether that’s more work and promotion, if that’s what’s really important, or if it’s family, if it̵