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HBR Guide to Getting the Right Work Done (HBR Guide Series) by Harvard Business Review

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Chapter 10

Stop Multitasking

by Peter Bregman

During a conference call with the executive committee of a nonprofit board on which I sit, I decided to send an e-mail to a client.

I know—multitasking is dangerous.

But I wasn’t texting while driving. I was safe at my desk. What could go wrong?

Well, I sent the client the message. Then I had to send him another one, this time with the attachment I’d forgotten to append. Finally, my third e-mail to him explained why that attachment wasn’t what he was expecting. When I eventually refocused on the call, I realized I hadn’t heard a question the board’s chair had asked me.

I swear I wasn’t sleep-deprived or smoking anything. But I might as well have been. A study showed that people distracted by incoming ...

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