by Marina Willats

Master Multi-Tasking

There was a time when being stuck in traffic was a source of great frustration. Now it is an opportunity – you can sip your latte while you make some calls, check your email on your blackberry, and listen to the latest headline news. Sound familiar. If so, you probably consider yourself a master multi-tasker. It’s a point of pride for many. Why do just two or three things at once when you can do four or five? In fact, isn’t that what digital devices are for – to lighten our load by allowing us to accomplish more in less time. Yet this is rarely how it plays out. Instead the ability to connect and communicate instantly has led to highly disruptive work environments and low productivity.

The Myth of Multi-tasking

It has been proven that no one can effectively do two things at once. Just try listening to two people on either side of you tell you a story. At best you will pick up random snippets without comprehension of either story. When we talk about multi-tasking we are referring to mental channel switching-moving from task to task. With improved digital devices and the influx of social networking, we have made mental channel switching a way of life. Yet a series of studies show that “the constant splintering and diversion of our attention wastes time and money.”(Basex Report, 2006)

Corporate ADD

The habit of multi-tasking leads to feelings of irritability, impatience and guilt over lack of production. It has led Dr. Edward Hallowel, psychiatrist, to give the condition a name, attention-deficit trait or ADT. People suffering with ADT are highly distracted and once taken off a task, recovery time becomes an issue for them. We don’t need formal diagnoses to know that this behavior is widespread throughout our offices and boardrooms.

Taking Control

On Thursday September 8, the Toronto Local Interest Group of the NeuroLeadership Institute will be meeting in Toronto at 5pm to discuss the implications of multi-tasking in the work place. Through a discussion facilitated by Alison Williams, BMO Capital Markets, we will look at the following questions:

  • Is multi-tasking the new operating paradigm?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the risks?
  • How do we adapt and address the attendant risks?
  • Can technology be the answer?

Join us on September 8 and lend your voice to this most pertinent debate. Join the LinkedIn Group for location details

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