“Multitasking is the function of doing several things at the same time and doing all of them badly.”
Reading those words recently in a magazine article put an immediate smile to my face as I realized the truthfulness of that statement.
For several years now the term “multitasking” has come into common usage as a way for many to explain how they are able to get through one busy day after another.
The experts tell us that multitasking is not within the human capability. Our consciousness is far too limited for us to focus, in any great detail, on more than one thing at a time. In fact, the same experts point to studies that show that the amount of time required to complete any one task is extended by up to 30% when we pursue that task while simultaneously attempting others.
I claim no expertise on this matter but my friend Jack appears to be living proof that singularity of focus is the way to go.
Jack is one of several managers who are responsible for the Western Canadian operations of a large international company. He has approximately 9 direct reports and a daily “To Do” list that would cause many of us to scream loudly for the need for more assistants.
His colleagues are in awe of his ability to get things done. They describe him as a machine that never stops and are constantly seeking his counsel on how to become more efficient.
Jack gives them the same answer every single time and yet they seem unwilling or incapable of grasping the obvious. Jack is a committed devotee of the Habit of Focus and has credited this habit for his ability to deliver huge volumes of productivity.
Jack has explained to me that in his view “focus is the mother of genius” and he attributes his machine-like capabilities to the simple fact that he only does one thing at a time and stays with it until it is complete.
Unlike his colleagues, Jack does not drop what is doing to answer the phone each time it rings. He pays no attention to the ringing phone and continues to work away at whatever he was doing when the phone rang.
When Jack has phone calls to make, he makes all of them at the same time. He also designates time to respond to voicemail. Those are the only times Jack uses his phone.
Jack only checks his email at certain times of the day and uses the same times to respond to emails or send new ones.
His staff know that he is always available to them and that his door is always open. However, they have also been trained to ask themselves, before entering Jack’s office, how important it is to meet with Jack right now, whether the topics at hand can wait until a later time or whether they can simply text or email Jack in order to schedule an appointment. They also know that if their need to meet with Jack is urgent, he will drop whatever he’s doing and give them as much time as they need.
His staff will tell you one other thing about Jack. When they are with him, he is completely with them. He does not answer his phone, respond to email or read texts. His focus is 100% on them.
Jack believes that the Habit of Focus is essential if one wants to accomplish a lot and he applies this to everything he does.
He does not believe in working lunches and, as he brings his own lunch to work most days, he spends his lunchtime either engaged in social interaction with colleagues or in some other personal, relaxing activity.
He has trained his staff to “do one thing well and stay with it until it is done” and his devotion to the Habit of Focus has paid off handsomely. His team has been the top rated team of performers in their company for the past nine years.
If you were to ask Jack to help you solve a problem he would simply tell you to focus on the problem, and do nothing else, until the solution “hits you between the eyes.”
The Habit of Focus. Something we should all focus on.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure
– I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.
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– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.
– Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.