Multi-Tasking – The Good and the Bad

There are two sides to multi-tasking. It's keeping a lot of balls in the air without dropping the important ones. It's getting more done with less. It's being effective with the resources available. It demands a high level of energy and commitment. But it's also the enemy of focus. It can be the enemy of effectiveness. Multi – tasking can be the friend of Resistance – that force that keeps us from doing the really important stuff. Multi-tasking can keep us thinking about what we're not doing, rather than focusing on what's in front of us.

I just read an article on MSNBC about a media multi -tasking study. The study was conducted by Stanford University and used college students who were either heavy media multi-taskers or not. The study concluded that the heavy users of media multi-tasking found it more difficult to focus and concentrate, and found it harder to ignore unimportant information than did the not heavy users.

This took a Stanford study to figure out? And the researchers were surprised by the results? I'm shocked that they were shocked. Whether it's media multi-tasking, or any other kind, there's a fine line between getting things done and just being busy.

I know that because every day I fight the urge to be busy as the means of fooling myself into thinking I'm effective. And multi – tasking plays right into the hands of that mysterious force called Resistance that fights like crazy to keep me from doing the things I know need to be done. Multi – tasking can be like a magnet for "thin things" – appealing all the stuff that hangs around the edges and calls for attention. And it feels so good to do the "thin things" – rearranging E Mail files – reading all the accumulated professional journals – organizing the picture files on the hard drive.

An example of thin things was on The Apprentice show a few years ago. An accountant who was part of a team coping to complete a complex project indicated herself as the keeper of the balance sheet. The team ended up losing – but their balance sheet was great. It contributed little to the project. She was fired by Trump. She made the mistake of working on "thin things" rather than the main things.

Successful multi – taskers know how important focus is. They know focusing for a fundamental period of time on the really important things – the true meaning of "Quality Time" – takes real work. Focusing requires saying no – accepting that certain unimportant things will not get done – or will get done at another time or someone else. Focusing requires identifying and prioritizing the really important stuff. And it requires the self discipline to not be distracted by all the light weight, interesting, easy stuff that floats by on the breeze.

Successful multi-taskers know how easy it is to lose focus and cross over that line between being effective and just being busy. They use goals to help them stay on track – even when distractions and demands are coming at them hot and heavy. They know circumstances can change things in the blink of an eye. But they also know that goals can help them get back on course quickly and not lose sight of the main things.

To ensure multi-tasking is a personal strength, examine your own approach to it. We all need to do some of it – some more than others. Busy behavior can become addicting – take the time to analyze what you're doing and why you're doing it. And if the answer is to meet important goals – you're on target. If, on the other hand, much of it is to keep from doing something else that's more important, take the time to develop or modify the few main goals needed to keep focus where it should be. And then work those goals as the way to break loose from the busyness addiction.

Source by Andrew Cox

Don Ma

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