Multitasking, Switchtasking, Background Tasking or Hypertasking

Multitasking, Switchtasking, Background Tasking or Hypertasking

Multitasking, Switchtasking, Background Tasking, or Hypertasking. Which are you guilty of?
Do you work at a company that still uses multitasker as a quality that they want in an employee?
Do you have a hard time focusing on one task at a time or feel constantly pulled in multiple directions?


Only two percent of people can multitask effectively, and chances are, you aren't one of them. As people learn more about the decreased productivity contributed to multitasking, we can only hope it becomes more culturally unacceptable behavior. Multitasking can reduce productivity by up to forty percent. I’m not suggesting to never multitask (I'm human and if you're reading this, you are too), but remember that if you are truly trying to learn something, you need to have 100% attention. I have several clients in Human Resources. I tell them that if their job descriptions still require multitasking skills, they are basically saying their company doesn’t know current research and is really looking for someone that takes 30-40% longer to complete a task.

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Background Tasking

Not all types of tasking are bad and can sometimes even be beneficial. Background tasking can be efficient and make time go faster when you need a distraction. Examples of background tasking are watching TV while exercising or listening to the radio while driving. Studies have shown that certain types of music can make people exercise harder. Personally, I catch up on podcasts while I’m cooking, cleaning, and exercising.


Hypertasking is when work multitasking gets carried over into your personal life. This could be talking on the phone while driving (equivalent to driving drunk) or working on a laptop while drinking coffee and talking to a friend. My girlfriend and I used to do this all the time. We would meet for lunch once a month at a coffee shop and spend two hours talking, eating, drinking coffee, and working a little. We used it as collaborative time and to bounce ideas off of each other, as well as the normal office talkie-talk we didn't get from working remotely. Did we get more done than if we were at home? Absolutely not. It was more for social engagement than for work, and we could and did stop talking when the other person was looking at their computer.


Switchtasking is juggling two tasks by refocusing attention back and forth and losing time and progress in the switch. Switch-tasking is the biggest problem for most people. We are switchtasking more than we multitask because we can do it at such speed. We are under the illusion we are doing things simultaneously, but in reality, we aren’t. If it’s something that involves the same part of the brain, like writing an email and talking on the phone, you can’t do them at the same time. The average person spends three minutes working on something before they switchtask. Have you ever been able to tell when someone you are talking to on the phone isn't quite 100% listening to you? Their tone changes and there's usually a pause before their response. I've asked people if they want me to call them back after they're done reading their email. This usually gets their attention. The biggest switchtasking culprit is definitely email.

What multitasking behavior you would like to stop?



Have you ever received an email that you were expected to answer immediately?

Are you someone who sends an email and expects people to answer immediately?

Repeat after me
Email is never urgent. Email is never urgent. Email is never urgent.
Hack the Mobile Lifestyle: 6 Steps to Work Well and Play More!

Hack the Mobile Lifestyle: 6 Steps to Work Well and Play More!

Hack the Mobile Lifestyle: 6 Steps to Work Well and Play More is now published on!

Do you travel for your J-O-B and give up on health and fitness because it's too hard to eat right and exercise?
Are you a constant multitasker that can't seem to cut down on that task list?
Have you walked miles in the airport, sweated in the hotel fitness center, wasted time tracking miles and left your cord in a coffee shop outlet?  (more…)
Super Organized or Organized Enough?

Super Organized or Organized Enough?

Often people expect me to be super organized, but I'm organized enough.

They think when they open my pantry that everything will be labeled and facing the same way Sleeping With the Enemy style. They expect that I have an inbox full of folders and never miss a birthday. I am very organized, but I think for some people the act of organizing is a mask for procrastinating. (more…)

Underwear Workouts!

Underwear Workouts!

Underwear workouts? Did that get your attention?  I’m not talking about bed business kind of workouts. I’m talking about actual exercise in your unders.  I often hear from people who travel that they don’t want to take up any space in their luggage by packing exercise clothes, shoes or equipment.

I can empathize with wanting to pack lightly, however, you don’t need all of those things all of the time.  I almost always pack exercise clothes, shoes and equipment but sometimes I have forgotten or I have been in a hotel with no gym or even a family or friend’s home with no space to exercise and it is freezing rain outside.

What to do? If you are staying in your room, you really only need your underwear and if you are a female, a sports bra. Almost all of the workouts I post on my site can be done in a hotel room, with very little space, no or little equipment necessary.  Use the hotel towel as your mat and you have everything you need.  If you think that it’s necessary to have heavy dumbbells or a Smith Machine in order to get your sweat on, try a couple of my workouts and repeat 4-5 times. If you want up to 55 pounds of resistance try my Jetsetter Kit by Rubberbanditz. It weighs less than a pound and is compact enough for a carry-on.

No excuses.  If you wear underwear, you can exercise.

And if you don’t…please make use of that hotel towel and don’t forget to close the curtains 🙂


Struggling with how to eat healthy on the road?

Check out this excerpt from Beyond Travel: A Road Warrior's Survival Guide

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