As I sit at my desk writing this blog on my laptop, I also pivot to my desktop to check the latest Presidential debate fallout on Twitter and Facebook. In the other room, the Dodgers vs. Cubs game is on the TV while my husband is sitting on the couch following the most recent Chargers talk on his iPad. To complete this picture, my son is doing homework from an actual textbook with a pencil. However, his phone is close by so he can check his teacher’s website and he is searching for his headphones so he can listen to music while he works.
Not the family portrait that Norman Rockwell painted by any means but certainly a reflection of today’s current connected environment and need for multi-tasking.
As much as most of us pride ourselves in our ability to multi-task, there is definitely a downside. A 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that interruptions as brief as two to three seconds were enough to double the number of errors participants made in an assigned task. That’s a pretty amazing stat! How much more productive could we be if we just did one task at a time? What if we were all monotaskers for a week? Imagine how much more productive we would be? Further research has revealed that self-identified “high media multitaskers” are actually more easily distracted than those who limit their time toggling.
I remember when the Franklin planner was a huge deal – I was issued a planner and schooled in the Franklin way. As much as I complained initially, it actually worked well for me. Prioritizing and completing tasks one at a time gave me a great sense of order and accomplishment. Now, I find myself too easily distracted by the pull of email and surfing the Internet, and my “to-do” list never seems to end. And I know that I am not the only one who checks email, makes a cup of coffee or sorts the mail while on a conference call. What if we all paid attention to the task at hand for once, “the” task, not all the tasks. We council our clients to stay on message, can’t we stay on task? Finish one email, one press release, and one product brief in a focused and timely manner?
So as an experiment, I am going to be a monotasker next week. I am going to tackle one item at a time with little or no distractions. My hope is that I will be more productive, more on message and overall less distracted. Feel free to join me but before you do, check out more on the fascinating monotasking subject at New York Times.
First on my Master Task List: Find a Franklin planner.