Multi-Tasking and Other Myths

The workforce is burning out with the phrase, “just one more thing”.  One more thing keeps being added to the heap of work.  One more thing is being calculated and re-calculated where that item fits in the overall body of work.  One more thing is prioritized only to be re-prioritized.

Why do we believe we can do many things at the same time and not jeopardize the quality?  Why do we hold this quality as something to be rewarded instead of avoided? Why do we believe that doing many things at once will allow for more things to be accomplished?

Aren’t we just starting many things and finishing few?  We busy ourselves with tasks until a new one captures our attention.  We consistently are attempting to run the 100 yard dash with a cup of coffee in hand and then question why we are not getting our best time.

We are not wired to do so many things at once.  I miss the days when we didn’t have taskbars, and we didn’t need to be so agile.  When we could determine a goal and be able to accomplish it to our satisfaction.  In the waves of information that flood in daily through e-mails, phones, texts, instant messages, alerts, notifications, it becomes impossible to determine what to focus on first.

Ah….focus.  The heart of how things get accomplished.  How we reach and exceed even our own expectations.  Imagine what an auditorium would be like if everyone was able to ask a musician questions while they were performing.  Picture an artist creating.  Would that imagine include them with a phone cradled in their neck? Pause for a minute and imagine a marathon runner with no shoes as they raced.  All are possible but would you expect each to perform at their “best”?

The proper tools are required to be successful.  Each individual needs to be outfitted for the tasks they are being asked to complete, they need to focus and be given the freedom to ask questions.  Our leaders need to practice self-restraint, delaying questions until it is optimal for those creating their unique vision to pause.

As humans, our best work comes from the full commitment to one and only one task.  Whether it is the composing of an article, creation of a painting, competing in a sport, or development of a project plan.  Sure, some are able to “multi-task” but will the output of their efforts be their “best”?

The time is coming that people will need to be trained how to focus again.  As a culture, we are swirling and spiraling into a society of doing things just to complete one more task on a spinning wheel of life.  We are no longer enjoying the tasks we are doing.  We are not tapping the creative genius that may live within those that are mindlessly entering data into systems, generating reports, determining ways to improve things to make it all go faster.

Exactly how fast will be fast enough?  Exactly how many tasks is doing too many at once?  Exactly when will we stop and smell the roses again?

I, for one, have started that journey and have found a world that is much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.  It is the rainbow of the sunrise in the sky that starts each day.  I am stopping those around me to pay attention to what they see, how they act, what they want to contribute to the world.  What is their special talent that will be the memories of their presence on earth for generations to come?

We need to learn to slow down and focus on the quality of what we do not the quantity of what we accomplish.    Start today.  Start now.  Pick one thing.  Focus your energy on that one thing and don’t move to the next thing until you are completely satisfied with what you have done.  Let me know how it goes.  Let me know what you learned.  It may be difficult at first but the more you do it the easier it will become.  The best thing?  You will have accomplished those things to the best of your ability and will not need to worry about items being undone because you have not started something you cannot finish.

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Raissa Urdiales
RAISSA is a strategic leader experienced in large-scale business transformation and change management within the Healthcare and Manufacturing Industries focusing in the area of Human Capital. She has a degree in Psychology specializing in Organizational Development. She looks for balance in life through all things that make us human. As a lifelong learner, she believes in paying it forward by mentoring and coaching those around her. She has a passion for writing and enjoys painting landscapes from her travels around the world. In the Digital Age, and the movement from the Baby Boomer Generation to the Millennial Generation, she takes her role as a GenXer very seriously. She believes GenXers are here to bridge the gap and assure we stay human in the new Digital Age.
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I love this. As you know I too am shortening my to do list. Thank you for sharing my friend and collaborator Larry

Maureen Nowicki
Maureen Nowicki

Your article reminds me of the beautiful concept of Ikigai – slowing down and having just one primary focus. I smiled inside Raissa, when you said how you have put your words into practice and realized how beautiful the world is. Thank you dearly.