This is a guest blog post by Ben Hosking who is a CRM specialist at Crimson. He also happens to be a first rate blogger so check him out at http://crmbusiness.wordpress.com/
I have recently been trying to focus on one thing at a time and rebel against the notion of multi tasking. This initially sounds like a bad idea, surely doing many things at once is better than focusing on one thing at a time, wouldn’t you get more done this way?
I am rebelling against multi tasking because recently I have ended up being distracted from my priority tasks and instead ended up wasting time doing things which aren’t as important. I have gone back to basics and given myself 30 minute time slots, focus on one thing and don’t read text messages, work emails, personal emails, Facebook, Linkedin checking websites for new stories and try not to talk to people. This sounds a bit draconian and I do relent and will talk to people if they come up to my desk and engage with me but I conscience not to get distracted and to focus on the task.
What was happening in my working day was I would be doing some work and then an email would pop up, I would instantly read it and reply or maybe start doing something else, then my phone would beep with a text message, read that, a quick check of my emails, quick scan of the BBC news site. I was getting frustrated by the fact I was getting distracting and doing little bits of lots of things seemed to take longer than focusing on doing one task.
It even occurred in my personal time (now this is serious) , I am currently studying for a .NET certification and sometimes I would go home and start up the laptop but then after reading a few pages, I would check my emails, watch a bit of TV and then end up not doing as much study as I wanted. So I have changed the way I study, I give it 30 minutes of focused effort rather than 2 hours of half effort. Interestingly this has resulted in more quality personal time where I am watching TV, playing Xbox, reading a book without being distracted by studying.
The original person who extolled the benefits of focus and priority to me was Mike Ames during his Flair Coaching Programme. I view the effects of multi tasking a bit like sailing a ship to a destination, if you sailed directly there you would arrive in good time but all the distractions of Blackberry’s, Facebook, email, text messaging and talking are basically stops on the way to your destination and the more stops you take the longer it takes you to get there.
I also think multitasking determinates your ability to concentrate on one task and I have read a number of articles on the subject, I think the multitasking, interrupting nature of modern life will have negative effects on future generations ability to concentrate on singular tasks in the future, although I admit I perhaps being slightly over dramatic but imagine all the minutes/hours/days/weeks/months wasted by people checking text message/email message/Facebook/LinkedIn over a lifetime. All the time used up with nothing to show for it and the majority of it to read unimportant messages. Rereading this article it seems I am highlighting my frustrations with procrastination, which the checking for messages/updates seems to encourage unless you focus on the task your are trying to accomplish and use these tools to assist rather than distract. I also remind myself what my priorities are each day and make sure I focus on those and not get waylaid by the myriad of distractions trying to nibble away at my precious time and stop achieving my goals.
If you would like to guest blog please email Melanie on Melanie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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