Without a doubt there are at least some people who are reading this Tipsheet while also listening to music, having an instant-message conversation (or two), and speaking on a telephone conference call.
Supposedly, multi-tasking skills improve with time: eventually, like the computers we rely on, we believe our brain can process multiple streams of activity simultaneously. One eyeball reading a book, the other enjoying a movie, if you will. And younger "millenials" are supposed to have this skill better than anyone else.
It is true that the brain can filter out unimportant distractions, and it is also true that we can monitor the background around us. Unfortunately, filtering and monitoring take processing power -- and remove capability from our primary task. And just as filtering and monitoring are skills that get better with practice, so does focus.
Consider the words that describe a person who singletasks: powerful, intense, driven, and focused. Compare the typical words that describe a multi-tasker: distracted, too busy, checked-out, and unfocused.
Singletasking is a skill that is critical when all of your attention - and your thinking power - is required. For most people, this means during critical meetings: sales pitches, networking meetings, and interviews. It is equally important on the personal front: the quality of a serious conversation can improve dramatically when your attention isn't split.
This week's action item: Choose a specific time of the day - even an hour - for singletasking. While you may feel disconnected from the rush of multiple inputs, you will be surprized at the efficiency - and the quality - of what you accomplish.
Randall Craig is an expert on Career Development, Work-Life Balance, and Networking; to find out how his workshops, webinars, and keynotes can help your team or add to your event, contact him through www.PersonalBalanceSheet.com, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make It Happen Tipsheet
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Copyright © 2008 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.
Publication Date: May 20, 2008
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