Often when we first start coaching our clients the faster paced clients can have this idea that they are great multi-taskers. We’ve all seen it – people trying to do things like check emails while they are in a meeting or on the phone to someone.
Neuroscience tells us that unless at least one of the tasks (preferably both) is completely boring and virtually automatic, our brains lose productivity when we try to multi-task. So unless you can do a task like fold the laundry from your office desk, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and assume that you’re probably not being overly productive when you try to multi-task.
However task-switching can be a great idea for people who are fast paced and typically have shorter attention spans. This doesn’t mean focus on two tasks at once. This means focus on one task by being fully present with that task and not allowing any other interruptions until you are ready to park that task and be fully present and focused on another task. And feel free to jump between the two tasks say every 20-30 minutes but just don’t try to do them at the same time.
I have clients who work in the construction industry and therefore need to manage truck drivers. Naturally they don’t want the truck drivers driving and trying to email at the same time so why do so many people think it’s ok to try to email while they are in a meeting?
Either you are in the meeting and contributing and learning and being fully present or you should leave and get back to your emails. (And I get it, many meetings are unproductive and quite frankly should be left – that’s the topic for another blog). But if you have made a choice to be in the meeting, then be in the meeting. Trying to do both is unproductive and quite disrespectful to the others in the meeting which can lead to more unproductive culture problems.
So we say no to multi-tasking but we say yes to task-switching…….
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