5. Stop multitasking. Start thinking of mental agility.
The human brain is not an electronic computer. The origin of the term multitasking refers to the advancement in technology of CPU multitasking. One example of this is the computer display screen displaying the output of the keyboard input. See Britannica’s definition for fuller clarification.
For us humans, multitasking is better defined as screwing up several things simultaneously. As reported on NPR’s Science Friday interview – The Myth of Multitasking – with Clifford Nass is author of “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop”;
NASS: The research is almost unanimous, which is very rare in social science, and it says that people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits. They’re basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive tasks, including multitasking. So in our research, the people who say they’re the best at multitasking because they do it all the time. It’s a little like smoking, you know, saying, I smoke all the time, so smoking can’t be bad for me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Shorter interpretation, addictive smart device usage make us stupid. Taken to the extreme, think of the risks to self and others of texting while driving. See the CDC report on Distracted Driving for some sobering statistics for the darkest side of multitasking.
But wait you say, in HR we get interrupted all the time when our job walks in the Open Door. Yes, that is true which is why we need to develop our mental agility, which is best described as the ability to swap tasks.
Here’s a few hints.
1. Mindfulness – stay in this moment, not yesterday or tomorrow.
2. Attention to Detail – check your own work.
3. Focus on the point of what you are doing.
4. When an interruption occurs, deal with it or add it to the day’s ToDo list. After dealing with it, do not just start with where you left off. Go back a few steps to review and get back into the flow of what was being done.
Extra Credit: I usually only put three things on my daily ToDo list because I know the list will expand to 7 or more by the end of the day. Take credit for all that you do, not just what you planned to do.