Over the past decade, it appears that the ability to multitask, doing more than one thing at a time, has become a “national badge of honor” in the business world. Many seem to take great pride in the fact that they can juggle e-mails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, a major project, and pleasing the boss … all while having lunch at their desk because of a tight schedule. And that’s just at work.
When they arrive home, it starts all over again … yard work, house repairs, car maintenance, grocery shopping, TV, and all of the activities involving the children. By the end of the day, total exhaustion has set in as plans for the following day ensue.
There seems to be a concern that if one can’t handle this kind of daily schedule, you’re just not working effectively.
However, several studies at major universities indicate that many productive workers credit the fact that they are returning to the fine art of FOCUS … deliberately concentrating on one thing at a time until completed before moving on to the rest of that challenging “to-do” list. This approach seems to be providing a greater flow and, therefore, increased productivity.
Further research continues to indicate that focusing on more than one task at a time actually decreases productivity and may jeopardize the fundamental quality of our work and communication.
The key of course is to maintain the proper balance of monotasking AND multitasking. In today’s workplace, and even just in our day-to-day lives in the information age, a certain amount of multitasking is unavoidable. So it seems the skill to develop is knowing when, where, and what to multitask.
So how do you know when you should “multitask” and when you should “monotask”? And how do you manage to do the latter? Some things lend themselves brilliantly to multitasking. These tend to be activities which are purely physical, or which by their nature take a set amount of time to complete—however well you focus.
It seems that we have moved from an extreme focus of concentrating on one task at a time to the other extreme of trying to do everything at once. Strive for the balance in your everyday activities. However, don’t forget why you’re working so hard at accomplishing so much so quickly. When it comes to long-term plans, you’d better be focusing on “that ONE THING” which is key to your existence. Many have lost sight of that target and others have never identified it at all.
In this 33-second video, Jack Palance explains “the Secret of Life” to Billy Crystal in City Slickers. So much wisdom in just 33 seconds!