I’ll be talking about something that is near and dear to most people’s hearts; MULTI-TASKING. If you are a multi-tasker or you know someone who is a multi-tasker, I think you’ll find the article below useful.
Yes, you heard the headline right. I’m going to share with you how to spend more time and get less done! Sound good? I’m sure it doesn’t, but hang in there with me. I think you might find some value in what I’m about to share.
I was talking with one of my coaching clients this morning and the topic we were discussing was what he should focus on in a given day. He had been struggling with his ability to maintain his focus on critical actions that he needed to complete. I told him this is a problem I see all the time. We live in a society that is addicted to multi-tasking. Go into any meeting and watch as people who are supposed to be completely focused on the meeting, lose their focus as their iphone alerts them to a new incoming message. Or watch as most people start their day by firing up their computers and checking their emails while at the same time being on a conference call.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Why is he picking on email? Email is an important business tool!” First of all, I agree that email is an important business tool, When Used Correctly! Unfortunately, the way we interact with our email along with social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, have eroded our ability to focus on the really important things we need to do.
I’ve had plenty of people say to me over the years that they were experts in multi-tasking, but the reality is that there is no such thing as multi-tasking. The human brain is incapable of consciously focusing on doing more than one thing at a time. So when you think you are multi-tasking, you are actually switch-tasking, which means you are switching your focus from one thing to another and then probably back again. Therein lies the danger.
To prove my point, try this exercise. Get out two pieces of paper and a pen and draw a line down the middle of each piece of paper. You’ll also need a watch with a second hand or a stopwatch. Once you’ve got everything ready, write the word “MULTITASK” on the left hand side of the first sheet of paper and the numbers “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9” on the right side of the paper. Do this as quickly as you can and time yourself to see how quickly you can do it. After you have done that, bring out the second sheet of paper. This time I want you to accomplish the same end result, but I want you to do it by multi-tasking or switch-tasking. You’ll do this by writing the letter “M” on the left hand side of the paper and then the number “1” on the right hand side of the paper, followed by the letter “U” on the left hand side followed by the number “2” on the right hand side, continuing on until you have completed the word “MULTITASK” and the numbers “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9” by alternating between them with each corresponding letter and number. Go as fast as you can and time yourself. Keeping in mind that both ways accomplished the exact same result, which way was quicker and more effective? Of course the first way was, but how often do we go about our day using the second method?
So there you have it, I’ve just shown you how to spend more time getting less done. By MULTITASKING. So what’s the cure? Stay tuned. In my next newsletter I’ll give you a strategy that could double or triple your effectiveness.