Sometimes I feel like there’s an endless amount of stuff to do and I can never catch up. It’s become commonplace to have 50 different things flashing in my head at once. The flashes look like a collage of images–all referencing stuff I have to get done. As of late, I’ve been getting things done even with this mental madness, but it’s taking me far too long to execute and consuming way too much energy.
So I’m taking action to change.
Last Friday morning I read a powerful blog post by Rob White called Atomic Action. In short, Atomic Action is about getting stuff done and moving on to the next thing; all with total focus and without feelings of burden or stress. I started the read with the idea that my level of taking action was optimal…but reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I do in fact take action, but too often I have poor focus in concentrating on one thing at a time; I multi-task with just about everything.
After reading Atomic Action and truthfully assessing how it relates to me, I determined the following about myself (in relation to productivity):
- I’ve developed a habit of being busy, not always because I have to–but because I’ve associated not being busy with being lazy.
- I want nothing to do with the word average, so I work-work-work in order to keep myself disassociated with the idea of mediocrity.
- My level of focus is low when my discipline to focus is low.
- I allow myself to be distracted far too easy and it happens way too much.
- My issue isn’t taking ACTIONS (I do that well); the issue is taking ACTION (one thing at a time).
- I’ve allowed myself to be driven by past failures.
I initially felt a bit frustrated and unsure about this realization. But in no time, I felt a release of burden. I knew this was a lesson that I needed. It was the key allowing me to move further up the steps of personal development; a requirement to reach the massive goals that I have. I haven’t moved up those steps yet…but I’m in process.
Multitasking Creeps In
This is how multitasking sneaks its way into my life:
I start the day off on the right foot; a clean slate. However, slowly, sometimes quickly, things start flashing in my mind–things that I need to get done. So, I stop what I’m doing and begin the process of 3-4 other things. As I piecemeal those tasks, something else may come to mind and I start that task too. Before I know it, I’m flat out confused and poorly juggling all kinds of stuff with very little focus to each. Rarely do I execute optimally when I multitask. I end up spending much more time than I should re-doing things because I didn’t do it right the first time.
Concentration and Efficiency
Imagine a concentrated cleaning agent. The more concentrated the chemicals, the more effective the agent is when cleaning. The more diluted the chemicals, the less effective the cleaning agent is. I used to see the diluted mixture as a better bang for my buck because it yields more uses (quantity). But in reality, it just takes more attempts (because it lacks quality).
Here’s the crazy thing…the amount of concentrated solution needed to clean a given spill doesn’t change whether it’s diluted or not. So the question is why in the world do we opt to dilute our concentration in the name of getting more stuff done? Diluting our focus lowers our performance quality.
I’m taking this seriously. Rob’s Atomic Action blog post was life changing for me. Once total focus becomes my default method in getting things done, I believe that some of the things I currently dream about will start being things I experience daily.
[I believe] the following are [some] critical considerations to combat multitasking:
Overcome Lazy Thinking. Not having the discipline to focus on one thing at a time is an outcome of lazy thinking. I’m guilty as personally charged. It’s lazy because working on multiple things at once creates idleness and wastes energy. I’m going to become a more disciplined thinker by not just going with the flow. Instead, I’m going to ensure that I’m inflow with whatever I’m working on.
Push Through Resistance. Multitasking creeps in most often when we resist something that we’re working on. Instead of pushing through the resistance and overcoming it, multitaskers take the easy, yet ineffective route of believing that we have something equally important to work on. Resistance hits again and the process continues until we have way too many things to focus on at once.
Get Organized. I work best when organized. Having an organized Action/Task List in place frees my mind from having to remember each and every thing I have to do. I can simply dump and dive in when I’ve finished with one thing and ready to execute the next, instead of the contrary: relying on memory. Relying on my memory to recall 20 different things has proven to be disastrous and always leads to multitasking.
Improving the Hustle
As I develop in the area of optimized productivity, I expect my ‘hustle’ to become ten times more productive. I expect to get more done in far less attempts, and have more free time left over.
In time, as I become more efficient, I believe that I’ll weed out stuff that isn’t worthy of my attention; freeing me to take on bigger things, with complete focus, yielding grander results.
DISCUSSION -Please share your experience with multitasking and how it affects your productivity? I assume that most people (not all) multitask to some degree…please share your experience in dealing with and overcoming the incredibly ineffective, terrible bad habit of multitasking. I’m looking to learn from you, as I’m sure others are as well.
If this is an area that you plan on committing change to, let’s not be strangers and support each other during the process. We can hold each other accountable.