I recently had a conversation (I use this term lightly for this example) with my wife that lasted about 10 minutes. At the end of the conversation she asked, “Is this okay?”, to which I answered, “Is what okay?” Needless to say she was not very happy with me at that moment. I was watching the nightly news, checking e-mails and trying to listen to what she had to say. At first this seemed like a great way to accomplish many things at once. The truth however, is that I didn’t hear a word my wife said, I had to rewind the news to watch the segment again and who knows what I wrote in the emails.
Multitasking is something we all do. Our society glorifies multitasking and if you are not doing more than one thing at time, people almost question your level of ability and drive. I find that I can be the biggest culprit of this mentality! I cannot begin to tell you the level of multitasking I engage in at work! For years I have thought this was the only way to accomplish more tasks in less time; however I now realize that the opposite is true. If everything has my attention, then nothing does.
Writing this blog has allowed me to truly understand the negative effect of multitasking. When I am writing, each interruption easily costs me about 10 minutes of time. I have to take my mind away from writing and put my attention towards the distraction. While it seems simple enough to just continue writing as soon as the distraction is over, our minds don’t work this way. I have to take time to regain my thoughts and get back into the flow of writing which could easily take another 5-10 minutes.
Visualize a single light bulb. If you take the light bulb and spread its effect out over an entire room you will have a lit room. This is a good thing. However, what happens if you take the same amount of light and focus it towards a very small area? This is what we call a laser. While the light bulb lit a room before, now we have an extremely focused stream of light that is capable of cutting through steel. What if we did the same thing with our time and work?
FOCUS on what really matters. Fight the urge to be a jack of all trades and a master of none! I find with our immediate access of information due to the web and mobile devices most of us are good at a lot of things but lack the ability to be like the laser, super focused to the point of cutting steel.
Studies show that we are 40% less productive when we multitask.
Put your phone on vibrate, close your e-mail, close your door.
Take 10 minutes at the start of everyday to plan for the day’s events. This will keep your mind from being distracted with trying to remember what all needs to get done. Allow your calendar to plan your day rather than the interruptions.
Identify the tasks that are truly important and eliminate those that don’t help you complete your goals.
A focused mind is the difference between lighting a room and cutting steel. I am working hard at focusing my efforts at what is truly important and I hope this encourages you to do the same. History as shown, those that have accomplished amazing things in their life were highly focused and specialized.
So, are you a light bulb or a laser?