I was at a seminar for Mindfulness in Business recently where the question was asked, “How many of you are really, really, good at multi-tasking?” Nearly everyone raised their hand.
We’ve all seen the data about the destructive force of multi-tasking, the research that shows it adds stress, creates memory problems, reduces work satisfaction, and most importantly, keeps us from doing our best work. Divided attention equals divided output.
I hate to admit, I’ve always felt that this research did not relate to me. Why? Because I strongly believed I was a great multi-tasker. I’ve considered people negatively effected by multi-tasking simply to be bad multi-taskers. Turns out, being really good at a bad thing is not all that good. It’s like saying, I’m really good at obsessing, or needless worry, or procrastination.
Multi-tasking is a difficult habit to break, but small things can make a difference. Simply check emails a little less frequently, keep cell phones out of meetings, stop reading emails while on the phone, and every so often, take a minute or two stop, focus and breathe.