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This Warning Against Multitasking From P.T. Barnum In 1880 Still Rings True Today

In P.T. Barnum‘s classic book on business from 1880 called “The Art of Money Getting” he says something very applicable to this day multitasking, A.D.D. oriented age.

And what he says helps point on the biggest problem with multitasking – and it has nothing to do with your ability to do more than one thing at a time.

In a section called “Do Not Scatter Your Powers” he says this…

p.t. barnum, the art of money getting

“Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abandon it. A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man‟s undivided attention is centered on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once. Many a fortune has slipped through a man‟s fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time. There is good sense in the old caution against having too many irons in the fire at once.”


Did you catch it? I hope so. (I bolded the sentence to help you.)

He says that the reason that we shouldn’t multitask is because focusing on one thing allows us our minds to come up with new improvements of value in that area, which we wouldn’t come up with when we’re doing multiple things.


When Multitasking Is Ok

That means that you DON’T have to stop multitasking completely.

In there areas of your job that you don’t need improvement (basic, repetitive tasks), you can keep multitasking. 

But in the areas where you need improvement and breakthrough, then you should begin experimenting with just focusing on just that one thing.

Try it for 30 days and see if it doesn’t help you to see improvement and breakthroughs in these areas of your work.


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About Scott Aughtmon (1872 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.