Successful Leaders Learn How to Ditch the Multitasking Myth

Every leader realizes that the world around them has changed – and is changing at an ever-increasing pace. The demands on a leader’s time and energy are on an upward trend, and show no signs of leveling off.

What’s worse, it may even seem that the skills and perspectives that were effective for past success may now have become a liability for future productivity. With so much going on, it’s almost  impossible to stay focused.

It’s time for new strategies and tactics to cope with the shifting ground of missed opportunities and unexpected threats in today’s ever-changing environment. 

 Somewhere along the way, we got distracted. As much as we multitask, love our devices and feel like we’re in control, deep down we know that something is off. Shortened attention spans, declines in critical thinking, lack of sleep, self-doubt and decreased creativity are just some of the effects coming to light in an age of digital distraction.

It’s time to reclaim our lives. It’s time to take control.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Life Scale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life by Brian Solis

Lifescale is a journey of self-discovery and growth. It’s about getting back into balance and remastering our destinies. Author Brian Solis knows first-hand. He struggled with distraction and all of its ill effects. To get his life back, he developed a set of techniques, exercises, and thought experiments designed to tame the chaos, and positively and productively navigate our day-to-day lives. Instead of falling victim to the never-ending cycle of newsfeeds, Likes, addictive apps, and boredom scrolling (aka the endless scroll), we can learn to manage our time and inspire our own lives in a way that will bring meaning back―without sacrificing the benefits that our devices bring us.

In Lifescale, Brian has done the legwork to pull together scientific findings and practical tools into one book. Readers―especially those who are distracted―will connect with the humor, pathos, and inspiration inside. 

With the renewed perspective Lifescale offers, we can finally learn to prioritize what matters, and live our digital and physical lives with intention and true happiness.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Have you ever come to a realization that you couldn’t focus the way you used to? It may have been exhibited when you couldn’t complete that project in the time you used to. It may have been reflected in the icy stares of spouse and family as you look over your phone at them during dinner. It may have been the thirty minutes lost as you scrolled through your social media platforms with no purpose.

The worst part may be the illusion of getting things done, checking off to-do lists, producing, meeting deadlines (albeit with much more effort required).

When did we get so busy?

Every day we struggle to balance every personal and professional responsibility, resorting to dividing our attention constantly among multiple demands.

That’s called “multitasking,” and it’s a myth.

Doing so many tasks at once leaves us with insufficient attentional energy to do any of them really well.

With all this multitasking, are we actually learning how to work more efficiently? Science says no.

The corrosive effects of multitasking include:

Wastes time, attention, and energy – While you may manage to produce some output, productivity, engagement, and value are usually compromised.

Attacks output quality – Reports show that working on two or more projects simultaneously takes longer than if you worked on each one individually.

Makes you mistake prone – From typos to unexplained lapses in logic, random errors appear in everything you produce, because you’re overwhelming the frontal cortex and not giving yourself enough depth and space for critical thinking

Hinders intellectual and affective processes – By compromising our intellectual and affective processes, we impair our internalized knowledge, our comprehension and ability to grasp complexity, and critical analysis.

Causes stress – When you are switching between tasks, you place yourself in a mode of high alert, or on the edge – and your true creativity is not kindled.

Makes you miss out on life – If you’re multitasking, the inattentional blindness that results prevents your brain from processing experiences that inspire thinking and creativity.

Affects your memory – Switching between talks disrupts short-term memory, causing you to miss or forget details in the moment.

Leads to increased distractibility – Researchers have found that multitaskers exhibit increased behavioral distractibility.

Hurts your relationships – At the most basic level, whether you’re with loved ones, friends, colleagues, and so on, if you break moments of engagement to mindlessly multitask, your actions, maybe not your words, say, “I’m only partially in this moment right now with you.”

Saps your energy – Cognitive costs are just one of the many assets you’ll spend by multitasking – there are also biological and emotional costs. You’re expending exorbitant energy, exhausting the oxygenated glucose in our brain.

Brian Solis, Life Scale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life

A NEXT STEP 

Think you can multitask?  Try this exercise from Fast Company magazine:

Time yourself doing the following two actions:

1) Spell aloud, letter by letter, “Jewelry is shiny” at the same time as you write your full name.

2) Spell aloud, letter-by-letter, “Jewelry is shiny” and then, after you are done with that, write your name.

It will probably take you at least twice as long to do number one as number two. However, if you practice spelling “Jewelry is shiny” aloud for a couple minutes, it’ll become automatic. You’ll no longer have to think to do it, and you’ll be able to complete the two tasks at the same time without incurring the switching cost.

This simple exercise demonstrates the practical difficulty of attempting to multitask.

For another measurement of both the futility and costs of multitasking, review the ten corrosive effects of multitasking above.

For each, recall an example of a time when you attempted to multitask. How did you feel? As an honest assessment, did you really think you were accomplishing more by multitasking?

What do you need to change in order to avoid multitasking? Make a stop doing list and review it regularly with someone you trust.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 139-2, released February 2020.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>> Learn about and purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Learn about and purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here <<

Speed Reading Week, Day 1

Here’s the deal: a book a day, with a few nuggets pulled out for your consideration. Ready?

The End of Business as Usual, Brian Solis

Some of today’s biggest trends – the mobile web, social media, gamification, real-time – have forced us to rewire the way we think about and run our organizations. Consumers are creating a new digital culture, and as they connect with one another, a vast and efficient information network is taking shape and is beginning to steer experiences, decisions, and markets.

The End of Business as Usual will change the way you view the world of business, from sales and marketing to customer service and product development to leadership and culture. Its critical insights include:

  • Shared experiences are redefining brands in digital consumer landscapes, and astute brands can now also create and steer these experiences
  • Consumer influence is growing, and businesses can use this to their advantage
  • Connect with a rising audience (and with audiences of audiences) through new touch points between consumers, brands, and new influencers
  • Create a culture to earn trust, influence, and significance among connected customers

Solis has written a powerful book, deep with implications. Here’s a couple of samples:

The nextwork sends and receives information at blinding speeds, creating an efficient human switchboard and network that in theory and in practice, outperforms telephone, terrestrial, cell, emergency, and web networks for the speed and precision at which relevant experiences are shared and re-shared. News no longer breaks – it tweets. (pp 54-55)

An Audience with an Audience of Audiences

This picture serves as both a time capsule immortalizing this important transition and evidence of the emergence of new information nextworks, a series of audiences with extended audiences. Every single one of these students is a representation of the connected customer. They are each connected to others in the room and around the world, figuratively and literally. They are nodes in the human network, playing an instrumental role in the dissemination of information and also the experiences that unite us online and in real life. Your job is to now influence what they share. (p 61)

Questions for ChurchWorld

  • How has the explosion of social media impacted your ministry – personally or corporately?
  • How are your “consumers” influencing your organization differently today than 3 years ago?
  • How are you harnessing the power and influence of social media technologies to connect with your audience?
  • Is the rate of change greater today than it was a year ago? How comfortable are you with that?
  • On a sliding scale, do you view your organization as rigid, social, connected, adaptive, or predictive?

This is your time to lead, not follow; your time to make a difference.