Four years ago I was inspired to write Attention Divided: Avoid Multi-Tasking.
In that post, I shared the following:
My name is Beverly and I’m a recovering multi-tasker. Like others of my ilk, I used to take pride in my juggling skills. I believed that tackling two or three tasks simultaneously was a sign of efficiency. Boy, was I wrong!
The truth is we just aren’t wired for multi-tasking. Research shows that when we attempt to switch our attention back and forth we take 50% longer to finish a task and make up to 50% more errors. In the worst case scenario, multi-tasking can literally cost us our lives or at a minimum, our dignity.
I encouraged lawyers to stop the insanity and suggested 8 specific action steps to resist multi-tasking:
- Control distractions – like the annoying pop-up: “You’ve Got Mail!” or push notifications on your smartphone or mobile device. In fact, turn your smartphone OFF occasionally.
- Give yourself a break from social media and the Internet.
- Set boundaries for reading and responding to e-mail and texts.
- Schedule a specific time each day to make and return phone calls.
- Advise clients of your business practices – office hours, availability by phone, ability to accommodate unscheduled appointments.
- Embrace “single tasking.”
- Ditch the guilt. Much of the reason we feel compelled to multi-task is because we believe it is expected of us.
- Respect each other’s time whenever possible. “Do You Have a Minute?” almost always translates into a much longer interruption.
In this month’s issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, I was thrilled to see Elizabeth Ruiz Frost’s article “Mental Shrinkage: The Many Costs of Multitasking.” I couldn’t agree more with the title and the points made in Frost’s article. If you haven’t read this month’s issue of the Bulletin, I urge you to do so. Take a few minutes to read Frost’s article and ask yourself: is this me? Do I see myself in these scenarios? If the answer is yes, consider implementing the 8 point plan above.
All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis
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