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Don't Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time

posted 23 Nov 2010, 07:21 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 23 Nov 2010, 07:23 ]

How can walking and chewing gum be dangerous you ask? Let me
back up a bit and explain my point. I have had many meetings
with individuals where either they or I were engaging in this
dangerous activity. Ok, so we were not literally walking and
chewing gum, but we were attempting to multi-task. I am here

to propose that you can't multi-task; you only have the
ability to focus on one activity at a time effectively. I
know many of you are going to say, "No way! I can do
multiple things all of the time; I text and drive, I talk on
the phone and do the dishes, I...". It has been proven that
texting and driving is dangerous, so I will not spend to
much time on this one; however, just because you can pull it
off does not mean that you did it well. Your driving and your
texting ability went way down; you could not have performed
any difficult driving maneuver and at the same time text
accurately or quickly.

Must of us have accepted the fact that we cannot or should
not text and drive for safety reasons, however think about
this same concept in a different application. How many times
have you been on the phone with someone and worked on your
email at the same time? How many times have you been in a
conference call meeting and read through someone's blog
post? Caught ya! When you take the time away from a meeting
for a moment to read through your email, you have just
become less effective in your meeting by not giving the
meeting your full attention. Now you respond to the email,
however you are still somewhat mentally in the meeting.
Therefore at this time you are performing two activities
each with less than full attention and completing both of
them most likely with poor quality. Similar to the example
of texting and driving, you may be able to pull it off, but
you will have done both with less then stellar performance.

I have blogged before about the importance of mental focus
and I ask you to go back and read my earlier blog post about
the subject. Mental focus can help you get the task at hand
done much more efficiently and quickly. Teach yourself to
stay on task until that task has been completed. There are
many different ways of doing this; the one that I like is
using a planner or a task sheet. This allows you to see at a
glance what needs to be done and you can check each task off
the list when it has been completed. You do not need to
worry about ten things at once. Just focus on the most
important task at hand and get it done. I recently read the
book from Brian Tracy called, "Eat That Frog", where talks
about getting the most difficult task done first, don't put
it off. Eat that frog and eat it first thing.

About the Author:

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