Multi-tasking these days means juggling your email, conference call, kids, and the two mobile smart phones you have on hand. It’s about balancing your work responsibilities and life responsibilities. The sheer amount of technology and information because of tools like the iPad, laptop computer, and iPhone does not always make our job easier. And for an organizational leader therein lies the challenge of managing, developing, and engaging your team of multi-taskers.
A recent study by Middletown Media Studies at Ball State University found that consumers squeeze 12 hours of media consumption into a 9 hour day. And Google search patterns during the 2010 Olympics found that broadcast viewers used commercials as an opportunity to learn more about what they saw during commercials.
The multi-tasker doesn’t impact just our workforce. Literally, it touches everything we do. Leaders like President Barrack Obama successfully used muti-tasking tactics during the 2008 Presidential campaign. Often found with his blackberry in hand, President Obama was seen regularly checking emails and taking calls during his children’s events.
Time management and productivity expert, Tony Schwartz has studied work flows and productivity throughout his career. He believes that while time is infinite, energy is resource that is inside us in contrast to time. We have ability to expand and renew. Schwartz, also a best selling author of The Way We’re Working Is’t Working says that multi-tasking doesn’t really exist. Human beings aren’t designed to do two cognitive tasks. Productivity on some level will suffer.
Instead Schwartz recommends using work flows letting your body guide your work schedule. If you’re tired, you take a break. If you are sleepy, you take a nap, and the all important technology break. That means unhinging your team members (and maybe yourself) from the smart phone and technology devices to focus on accomplishing one task. This way the project has one hundred percent of your full attention. Encourage your employees to take frequent breaks and leave the office often. These mental vacations help you rejuvenate and reconnect with the outside world. Employees and team members cannot sustain 80 hours weeks and remain productive without down time. Encourage your employees to rest and relax.
Because bigger and faster is not always better.
As a Multi-Tasker myself, I’ve written a great deal about juggling family, life, and work. Here are a couple additional blog posts to get you going: