We’re all used to multitasking. It’s become part of our social fiber and workplace reality. After all, in today’s hectic world, how could anyone get done what needs to be done without dividing our focus?
- At work, while paying attention to the all-hands conference call, I’m answering emails from my friends… happy hour Friday?
- While I’m on the phone, I’m also on my IPad and watching TV… American Idol runner up, Adam Lambert was a special guest—how could I miss that?
- I know I shouldn’t text while driving, but being stuck in traffic is making me late for that happy hour, and I need to let them know I’m on my way… and I turned down the radio.
Have you done any of these? Maybe you don’t see anything wrong with these scenarios. Outside of skirting the law (a little), the multitasking here makes sense, right? No big deal, you think, because:
- The quality of the outcomes didn’t matter, or can be remedied easily
- The outcome of the multitasking didn’t really affect others; if it did, it’s easy to fix
- And, the multitasking didn’t require a lot of thinking, what was done felt automatic and was both fast and easy
Multitasking Versus Focused Effort
However, when one of your multitasking activities has a quality component, affects others (especially customers or others relying upon you), or requires thought and consideration, you better push aside this “multi-tasking is harmless” thinking and…FOCUS.
Your focused effort delivers the results you and others want and expect. In most of our jobs we are part of a group, team, or chain that relies on each other to get stuff done. When someone lets the group down, that affects others’ job performance. We are all disappointed, especially the boss!
But gathering that focus can be hard. Distractions, digital and otherwise, seem to be everywhere. When you really need to focus, try these tips:
Enable the Environment
Find a place to focus. Hideout in a conference room or the cafeteria. Maybe go where you are not known like a Starbucks or Panera. If you can’t leave the office, put out a Do Not Disturb sign. The key: become invisible long enough to get the critical work done.
Before becoming invisible, get yourself organized. Before you hide, think about everything you need to focus on the issue or project. Just as important, leave known distractions, like your cell phone and iPad, behind. Walk into the conference room or Starbucks with only what is required to finish that very specific task.
Block out Focus Time
You will be amazed at how focused effort often requires less time. Allocate a small amount of time, perhaps every day, and stick to it. Morning people do this very well; they use the early hours to complete the day’s focus-worthy tasks. Night owls can benefit, too. Just block out the time that works best for you.
Most studies done on multitasking, when the results are fully analyzed, show that being 100 percent focused on important activities delivers the optimum results in LESS time!
“To create something exceptional, your mind set must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail.”
– Giorgio Armani
In any field or profession, a focused effort will enhance decision-making, high quality results and respect from your colleagues.
Leave the multi-tasking behind. And get work done faster, and better.
About the Author: Russell J. Bunio, the author of ‘The Graduate Handbook: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know’, started his career at General Motors as an entry-level production planner. While working at Cummins Engine Company and The Boeing Company, Bunio rose to vice president and chief procurement officer. He studied economics at West Virginia University and attended the European American Study Center, in Basel, Switzerland.
He has served on numerous boards of directors and received the National Minority Supplier Development Appreciation Award for his personal commitment and dedication to helping minority suppliers with entry and participation with Corporate America. Follow Russell on Twitter!