Sorry, You Can't Do It All

We think we can do it all. We call it multi-tasking, but it should more properly be called “serial-tasking.” If you don’t believe me try this exercise.

Draw 2 parallel lines. On the top line write, “Multi-tasking is a myth.” On the second line write the numbers 1-20 below the line.

That task should take you about 20 seconds.

Now draw another 2 lines and this time we’re going to shift between tasks. Go ahead and write the letter “M” and then below the second line , write the number “1”. Then go back to the first line and write the letter “u” and go back down to the second line to write the number “2”. Proceed with that task and see how long it takes you.

It took me almost twice as long as the first exercise but even more importantly was the mental challenge of having to shift my thinking between letters and numbers. The brain is really geared for focused thinking and the distractions in our environment actually serve to make us less efficient and usually lead to frustration and additional work.

To remedy this habit, try these tips

  1. Build focused work time into your calendar. Don’t just say you’re going to spend time doing focused work, but actually put it into your Outlook with the specifics of what tasks you will get done.
  2. Block distractions by using software technology such as Freedom or by posting a “Do Not Disturb Until XX Hour” sign on your workspace entrance. Using headphones also can cut out disturbances but probably not if you are listening to Bruno Mars.
  3. Build your Focus by working up to more focused time periods. Start with 15 minutes of focused time on a single task and then build on it until you can be working for 60 minutes or more. Then take a break…you deserve it.

Your Task This Week: Taking time for your work means that you will get more done and will be more effective with others, including your loved ones. It is not easy to fight distractions especially with yourself, but it is a worthy battle.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2019


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