Tag Archives: The Economist

focal point … the daily goal

“He well knew his mind’s natural tendency to be endlessly on a thousand subjects at once, to flit from this to that and to the next thing to no particular purpose–indeed, he called it his “butterfly mind.”   Eric Metaxas

Focus – on the one thing.   Our society is turning more and more into a society with more ADHD like attributes.  People are being asked to do more than one thing at a time and it is killing productivity.   You’ve read the hiring ads, “must be able to handle multiple tasks” or “handle multiple interrupts and work on several projects in parallel”.   Study after study show that the mind can not do more than “one” thing at a time.   What employers are asking for are people that are willing to fail to deliver results.

There are people who say they can multitask, that can do more than one thing at once.  Try solving 2 math problems at the same time in your head.   Try typing and listening at the same time (really listening).   If you’re typing and listening then try repeating back what you heard.   Type at your normal rhythm and then listen to something with some level of thought required, what happens?  Now try that same exercise only focusing on the typing and then just listening?   What were the results?    Try that exercise and time it.   Time how long it takes to do the typing and listening alone.   Then do those same two tasks at the same time.   What was different?

Focus, the brain works better when you focus on completing just one thing at a time.    Perhaps some of your day is going to be interrupt driven, where requests  come flying at you from all sides.   Dedicate a part of the day to being inefficient. Also dedicate a part of the day where there are no meetings, just focused, one objective at a time results driven work.    Make the chunk of time to dedicate to focused work about 90 minutes.   If possible get two 90 minute blocks of time to focus only on getting work done.  No calls – no email – no interruptions – just focused work.

Experiment – just try doing one thing at a time.

Write down the key goal for the day.   Why are you doing that one thing?   Is that the most important thing that should be done today?   What will it take to get it done?    When is it going to get done?  And then break down the big goal into some tasks – things that are easier to digest and attack them with all vigor.   Note the results, what was the outcome and did you achieve the intended outcome?