Have you ever had the remarkable pleasure of talking to someone who keeps checking their phone for new text messages while they are talking to you? Naturally, nothing you are saying could matter quite as much as the next fabulous text message they are pretty sure they are going to receive.
The stupid idea of multitasking has spread throughout our society like a contagious disease. It isn’t simply a “bad” idea (as in unsafe, rude, counterproductive), it also happens to be physically impossible.
One does not “multitask”. Oh sure, you can think you are multitasking but you are not. What a “multitasking person” is doing is one of the most inefficient things possible (as far as real work output goes): they are stopping doing one thing and starting another, literally jumping from task to task and back again. They aren’t really “there” with regard to the other tasks they are “sort of doing”.
Almost all truly successful people in just about every profession and activity (sports, business, entertainment, construction – you name it) have ONE thing in common: THEY DO WHAT THEY ARE DOING WHILE THEY ARE DOING IT.
A common problem for Realtors is they never quite “arrive at work” so can never really take time off either. When they are “on vacation” they are still working on deals, sending faxes, taking calls – in other words, they simply changed their location but not what they were doing. I see agents out to dinner and there – sometimes actually on the table – sits their cell phone. Oh no, can’t take a chance on missing an important call!
If you are an on call medical doctor (or some profession where it really is a matter of life and death) perhaps being interrupted during dinner makes sense. If you list and sell houses for a living, I don’t get it.
When working, work. Really work. When not working, don’t. Not even a little bit. BE. HERE. NOW.
Try it sometime. You just might like it.
November 24, 2008 at 6:37 am
Nice Reminder Russell. I know from time to time the “Gravity Of In The Now” turns wispy and I go floating into the make believe productivity mirage you describe – multi-tasking.
Also, ignoring your phones, rings, beeps and pings when you’re in the company of someone important sends a powerful, appreciated confirmation of their significance to you. Better yet, turn it off in front of them. People appreciate the consideration and your attention.
Thanks for the reminder.
November 24, 2008 at 6:54 am
This is why I set my clients’ expectations appropriately.
I tell them that I can’t help it but I have a sickness that prevents me from focusing on them because I have to know what’s going on right now!
I tell them that the only calls I will take when I am with them are either 1) One that I’m expecting and have to take (and that I would do the same for them) or 2) Wife/family.
Generally, they’re ok with those two.
November 24, 2008 at 10:17 am
During the 90s downturn I went to work for Gregg Neuman. I was his first buyer agent. Everyone, including Gregg, had scheduled days off, with a set rule – you are not allowed to come into the office. Gregg said it was burnout protection. When we were working though, it was at full speed.
The phone thing is huge, and it took my coaching of my daughter’s softball team to finally get it.
It was between innings and I was on the phone getting ready to coach 3rd base and all of a sudden the ump jumps up from behind the plate, points and screams at me “Coach – you’re phone. It’s… OUT OF THE GAME!”, does the best ejection signal ever seen, then she took my phone.
November 24, 2008 at 11:06 am
When someone I’m in a conversation with starts texting I stop talking. They usually say something like “I can hear you” to which I reply: I know, and I’d prefer to resume our conversation when you’re finished. My absolute silence at that point usually stops the texting.
As most of my work involves programming or some other kind of development, I’ve learned that focus is the best way to produce work I’m really proud of. When I was in sales and management, I also learned that no one ever really appreciated off-hand or aside comments as much as clear, eyeball-to-eyeball communication.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of having one-on-one meetings with people at very high levels of business and government… people who shouldn’t “need” to be so focused during a conversation with me. And yet, they were: they made me feel as if our conversation was the most important one they were having that day. As a case in point: three minutes with Russell is better than thirty minutes with many other people. Why? Because he takes the time to BE with you.
In studying ideas expressed by David Allen to Eckhart Tolle, I’ve concluded that the best seemingly elusive time that many are scurrying about hoping to get to, is now.
November 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm