Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Do One Thing and Do It Well

Whenever I start at any new job position, I have a bit of a panic in the first week: "how the heck am I supposed to be doing all this stuff that they want me to do?!" Life seems overwhelming, and, the truth of the matter, as the job goes along, that feeling doesn't go away--it just changes. So what's the key to multitasking? The Harvard Business Review says today that the goal should be doing one thing at a time:
Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you're taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you're driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn't?
I nodded my head at all of these, and that can't be a good sign. It got so bad the other day that while on a conference call, I went to send an e-mail and while thinking about the next e-mail I was about to send, I sent the first e-mail to the second e-mail's recipient. Outlook's "recall mail" feature isn't going to make up for that mistake.

But I liked the author's solution: "The best way for an organization to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal." And here's how he suggests managers promote doing that:

1. Maintain meeting discipline.
2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day.
3. Encourage renewal

And for individuals:
1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time.
2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically.
3. Take real and regular vacations

With the economy the way it is, we all try to work as hard as we can for as much as we can to maximize face-time and try to seem as productive as possible. But the truth is that if we really want to be as productive as possible, taking a break, doing one thing at once, and stopping living in the "grey zone" are the keys to making that happen.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree with the fact that if we really want to be as productive as possible we need taking a break, doing one thing at once.


Stat Counter