The world is moving faster than you can run, people want more from than you can give, and there is more information to get your head around than time available. The temptation to try and keep up with speed results in overload and burnout. The solution lies in breaking the ‘always busy’ addiction.
Digital productivity expert, Simon Waller recently wrote “If you ask executives for the number one factor limiting their productivity, the answer is invariably email”. Simon revealed that in 2012, McKinsey estimated this one activity took up more than 13 hours per week (and is only getting worse)!
MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller tells us that our brains are not designed for multi-tasking. in fact, constant task switching creates a neural addiction to the feel good chemicals, such a dopamine, which are released every time you complete a small task (like sending a text, or writing an email).
Miller found that “Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking”
To add to that, research has found that “multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time.”
Multi-tasking hasn’t been shown to be more productive – quite the opposite. A study at the University of London showed that multi-tasking lowered your IQ, so much so that it was similar to losing a night’s sleep or smoking marijuana! So what’s the solution?
Notice the pattern – It’s like the frog in the pot of water on the stove. The frog doesn’t recognise the water is heating up because it’s in it and adjusting to the temperature change. By the time it notices the water is too hot, it’s too late – the frog has become soup.
You are surrounded by a multi-tasking culture of being in a meeting whilst responding to texts, and reviewing a schedule. You have adapted your work style to fit in with your client’s needs and everyone around you. Don’t just follow the crowd. Be deliberate in how you work. Ensure that technology is serving you, rather than becoming a servant to technology.
Get off the drug – Distraction feels good. It is an addictive feeling that comes from chasing micro successes throughout your day. Thus, making it less appealing to focus in on one task that requires longer attention with minimal, or no, short term reward. You need to wean yourself off the addiction of distraction. Stop relying on the micro ‘feel good’ bursts that come from doing quick activities that are grabbing your immediate attention. Get the important stuff done first, not just the easiest or most pleasurable ones.
Do deep work – Cal Newport, author of ‘Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world’ tells us that high quality work is a function of two factors, being “the amount of time you spend on work and the intensity of your focus during this time”. By increasing your undistracted focus, you can get more done. Discipline yourself to focus in by removing distractions that steal your attention away. Close the door, hold your calls and treat your time as the most important commodity in the world.
Is it time to finally say good-bye to open office spaces, open door policies, and shared work-spaces? Maybe. A high performance team needs to step outside the consensus, and not be seduced by doing the same as what everyone else is doing. You need to think like leaders and establish a way to work that is sustainable, and brings the best out of everyone, when working to deadlines.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Michael Licenblat – was a Speaker at the PCOA 2016 conference in Brisbane
Michael Licenblat is a resilience expert who teaches leaders how to perform better in high-pressure environments and build resilient teams. Michael is a professional speaker and trainer, and the author of the book ‘Pressure Proof – how to thrive in times of disruption, change and pressure’. You are welcome to download a complimentary copy of his latest white paper ‘Building Pressure Proof Teams’ from www.BounceBackFast.com