Princess Diana once broke hearts by leaving hundreds of charities -- and it teaches an important lesson in time management

Just before her divorce from Prince Charles was finalised in 1996, Princess Diana stunned the world with another big announcement.

The Princess of Wales resigned as patron or president of nearly 100 charities, a move that The Independent reported at the time “devastated” these groups.

Diana chose to remain involved with just six organisations, including charities that supported the homeless, individuals with HIV, and cancer research.

So what made Diana decide to cut ties with so many philanthropic organisations?

In the princess’s case, being slightly involved in so many charities prevented her from being able to truly delve deeply into any of them.

“She wanted to avoid situations where she was just a letterhead,” Tina Brown writes in “The Diana Chronicles.” “‘If I’m going to talk on behalf of any cause, I want to go and see the problem for myself and learn about it,’ she told the chairman of the Washington Post Company, the late Katharine ‘Kay’ Graham.”

It turns out, science was on the princess’s side. Multi-tasking is rarely found to be a good idea.

“The problem with trying to multi-task is all that shifting back and forth between tasks isn’t all that efficient because, each time we do it, it takes our brain some time to refocus,” Lisa Quast wrote in Forbes.

The Princess of Wales’s choice allowed her to become a far more effective philanthropist. She was even able to take on another cause to champion — the banning of landmines.

Today, Diana’s legacy is in part defined by the work she did for those charities, because she was able to hone her focus on those projects.

NOW WATCH: Here’s what could happen to Prince Charles’ name when the Queen dies

NOW WATCH: Ideas videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.