You arrive at the office, review your 17-point
to-do list and immediately start to feel butterflies in your stomach. You resolve to tackle the items as fast as possible. While you return calls, you sort e-mail and snail mail. You begin keying in slides for tomorrow's presentation. Then the boss comes in to demand an update on sales figures--ASAP, please. You've just opened the spreadsheet when one of your most important customers calls. With the receiver jammed between your shoulder and ear, you keep tabbing up the sales totals until, 15 minutes later, you are finally able to get rid of the client politely.
This article was originally published with the title The Limits of Multitasking.