I often talk to my clients about the fallacy of multitasking. This concept has become a badge of honor in the business world. We even see job postings stating that the candidate “must be able to multitask.” And yet, the research shows that multitasking actually reduces productivity and effectiveness while increasing stress.
And yet, even with that knowledge, I still fall into the trap myself now and again. This is the busiest time of the year for the center I run and so, my schedule has been more rigorous than usual. At the same time, I am committed to putting out regular content for my community. So, last night I took my iPad into the living room to settle in and watch the Patriots game and write a blog. You can probably see where this is going…
I kept toggling my attention between the tv screen and the computer screen. Consequently, I missed much of the game and, as my husband politely put it when I asked him to read the blog, “not your best work.”
I decided to put it away for the evening and take a fresh look at it in the morning. Honestly, it wasn’t even worth trying to salvage it. I would have been better served to have left the iPad upstairs and enjoyed the game or not sit down to watch the game until the blog was done.
Think about the implications of this for you as a leader. Have you ever been in a meeting with an employee and been checking email, preparing for another meeting, otherwise distracted? How many times have you gone back to find that you’ve only half answered the email, or put an errant comment in the meeting notes that had to do with the conversation with your employee rather than the presentation? Worse yet, how valued do you think the employee sitting in front of you feels?
When we try and work on two or more things that require our attention, neither gets the focus it deserves. Both may eventually get done, but they will likely take us longer or suffer in quality.