It’s late at night and the power is out, you grab a torch and shine it into the office, illuminating the very impressive book collection to the exclusion of the lounge suite and office desk. You can only see where the torch light shines. Focus is the torchlight of our attention.
When we focus it is to the exclusion of everything else, it’s our ability to place our attention on something for a period without distraction. The more complex that something is the greater the effort you need to invest.
Got it. Let’s look at multitasking
I think, I am much better at multitasking than my husband and I have heard many women proudly echo the same thoughts. Multitasking helps to meet the many demands we place on ourselves. Cooking dinner whilst doing the kids homework, fulfilling tight schedules, being available for social media, saying “yes, I can do it” even if it means over committing and continually juggling families and work.
I am sorry to say that there is much evidence to prove multitasking isn’t as beneficial as I would like to believe. The experts say we are not multitasking, instead we switch our attention from one task to another and in doing so reduce effectiveness.
So, If multitasking is not the way, what else can we do?
LOTS OF SPRINTS
No, I am not asking you to put on your joggers and start running.
I am asking you to deliberately choose what you focus on for a defined period. You choose the focus and you choose the time.
I am a 90-minute SPRINT girl -this means going at full pace for 90 minutes followed by a rest period of 15 to 30 minutes. Your time may be 10 minutes, half an hour, 50 minutes, whatever works for you, this is not one size fits all.
What to Do
- Select a time that suits you in the moment, as I mentioned I like 90 minute sprints, unfortunately I can’t always do 90 minute sprints, so I adapt my time to suit each individual sprint. Maybe, its 30 minutes or another time frame. It is important to be very clear on the duration of each sprint. When the sprint is completed take a break, and give the brain time to refuel.
- Decide, what is the purpose of the sprint? what results do you want to achieve? What will you focus on? Make it clear, attainable and a stretch.
- Set up the space, get water, cuppa, everything you need. Clear any possible distractions, turn off email, phones, other devises.
- Now you have a clear outcome, deliberate focus, set duration, you are ready to start. Set the stop watch and do the do.
You will be surprised at how Sprints dramatically increase productivity, confidence and performance.
My mentor would say “If you know your outcome and you move your focus to that outcome you are going to improve your results every single time” It has always worked for me.
Many workdays aren’t terribly productive, spending too much time on emails, in meetings, gossiping , running from one task to another or dealing with many distractions, it is no wonder it is struggle to find the willpower and energy to focus on what’s really important.
“…A third of employees are distracted at work for up to three hours a day, blaming their lack of concentration on chatty colleagues, social media and even the weather. This adds up to 60 hours of dawdling a month, or a total of 759 hours each year, according to a survey of 2,000 people conducted by the personal financial management service Think Money.”
Don’t let this be you. Turn sprints into a daily practice and watch your productivity and performance skyrocket.
If you want a quick easy way to understand the neurology of multitasking have a look at:
Multitasking Is a Myth, and to Attempt It Comes at a Neurobiological Cost
A Native American Cherokee Story – Two Wolves
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”