We’d all like to think we can disconnect from work after a task-filled
day and fully engage with our family at home despite our Apple Watch buzzing every
5 seconds with notifications.
Let’s be honest—we know concentrating on multiple tasks at once is not possible.
The concept of multitasking forces your brain to switch back
and forth very quickly between two or more tasks. This wouldn’t be a problem if
the human brain was able to transition seamlessly from one job to the next, but
There is a psychological term for the mental price you pay
each time you interrupt one task and jump to another. It’s called the switching cost. Switching cost is the disruption in performance that we experience when
we switch our attention from one task to another.
A great example can be found in research from The
International Journal of Information Management. They conducted a study
measuring the frequency of email in the workplace. The study revealed that the
typical person checks email once every five minutes, and that it takes 64
seconds to resume the previous task after checking your email.
That 64 seconds is the switching cost. And that cost adds up
Despite the evidence of such costs, we still overestimate
our ability to handle multiple tasks at one time—which leads us to
underestimate the benefits of focused concentration.
Today, people wear the title “Multitasker” like a badge of
honor. It’s almost as if we celebrate being busy with many things more than being great at one thing.
Doing more things does not drive faster or better results; doing better things drives better results.
And even more accurately, doing one thing as best you can drives
the best results.
John Maxwell says, “Mastery requires focus and consistency.
If you commit to nothing you’ll be distracted by everything.” The power of
choosing one priority is it naturally guides your behavior by forcing you to
organize your life around that responsibility. Your priority becomes an anchor
task that holds the rest of your day in place.
Great leaders confidently know where they get the most return and prioritize their time accordingly.
These leaders experience the most success because they are secure enough to focus on mastering their one thing.
What do you want to master?
What is the one thing that will yield the greatest return
from your time and energy?
If you will answer these questions and commit to staying
focused on it, you will accomplish great things.
I’ll leave you with these challenging words from John Maxwell: “We confuse activity with accomplishment – and what’s worse, we invite the demands of others. We begin reacting rather than acting. We fail to manage by objectives and begin to manage by requests. Unfortunately, when we forget the ultimate, we become slaves to the immediate.”Don’t believe the multitasking myth. Your leadership will thrive if you refuse distractions and focus on doing what you do well.