You are on the phone with your client when you get the notification that your boss just sent a time-critical e-mail. You don't want to keep your boss waiting, so you reply to his e-mail while you're still in the conversation with your client.
Soon you receive another e-mail from your boss. Only this time he sounds impatient. Apparently, you were only addressing two of the three points of his message. Then you realize that you forgot what the client said about his deadlines. You will have to call your client again and ask him to repeat the information.
Or maybe you are the boss. Good for you because in that case, people will likely only complain behind your back.
You and me, we've all been in similar situations.
For the longest time, we have been told that as highly efficient human beings we have to be able to multitask and adapt to the demands of an increasingly stressful work environment and new technologies.
Multitasking does not describe a situation when we are idling. For instance, it does not apply if we are on hold and we check our e-mail inbox while we are waiting for our conversation partner
But does multitasking really lead to an increase in productiveness?
1. Multitasking leads to more mistakes
In general, multitasking leads to making more mistakes. Correcting those mistakes often takes more time than focusing on a task in the first place.
A current example is Pokémon Go. Recent studies suggest that the cognitive abilities of people who are hunting monsters while driving their cars are comparable to those of a 10 to 30 year older person.
The problem increases when we are trying to do tasks that use the same cognitive resources. This is why it is legal to use hands-free devices while driving. Studies have shown that people who are engaged in a phone conversation overlook more than double the amount of traffic signs than individuals who are not talking on the phone. They also react slower in critical situations.
In the example of the multitasker that is talking to his client and tries to read it or even answer his e-mails at the same time, it is likely that he will miss part of the conversation. Potentially important parts.
It is highly frustrating when someone replies to your message and obviously has read only half of your e-mail. The same applies to the person on the phone. Your client will likely not be happy if they have to repeat information they´ve already given you.
In a conversation, the most important information are often not the facts but the emotion of your conversation partner. The things that are not being said. It is more than unlikely that you would be able to understand the emotions of the person you are talking to if you are reading and replying to e-mails at the same time.
2. Multitasking leads to stress
Not only is job burnout a huge problem that is on the rise and presents a huge health threat. Stress is also the happiness killer number one.
You can read my detailed article about job burnout, consequences, and remedies here. AVOIDING JOB BURNOUT
Stress can lead to severe mental and physical issues. If you are stressed at your workplace it will sooner or later also result in problems in your personal relationships.
Unhappy, stressed out people do not deliver great results.
3. Scientific proof and multitasking
What has been proven is that automatic tasks run smooth in multitasking mode. The reason for that is that our frontal lobe is not required to fulfill these duties and therefore does not require resources needed for creative thinking.
Psychologists of the renowned Standford University show in the Clifford Nass study that multitaskers have a hard to time to separate relevant from irrelevant facts. Apparently, they spread their attention to all information alike and lose the ability to focus on the important points.
Some go as far as saying that multitasking can damage your career. I tend to agree.
Multitasking is inefficient. You will achieve the best results if you do one thing at a time and you do it properly. Giving the task at hand your full attention helps you to avoid unnecessary and time costly mistakes.
Communication and relationships benefit from undivided attention as well.
Naturally, this is not always possible in these times that require us to focus on several sources of information at once.
But even small changes can bring relief. For instance, turn off push notifications and check your e-mails manually every 15 or 30 minutes. Shut off your phone while you are working on an important task that requires your cognitive abilities.
Todo lists help to focus on important tasks - most of the time notifications from social networks are not one of them.
Canadian Writer, Don Kerr, asked me for an interview to learn about the private person Aurorasa. If, and only if, you want to learn more about me, you can read the interview here.
About Don Kerr
A brand creation, development, and marketing communication consultant with 30-years of relevant experience to creating powerful connections between corporations and their customers. His work is founded upon establishing a compelling emotional connection between a brand and its stakeholders revolving around three principles of effective brand expression: Clarity. Simplicity. Wit.
Leading branding efforts include organizations such as Wal-Mart, Château des Charmes, Kraft, Pep Boys Auto, McDonald’s and Disney.
He is also the creator of the Brand Clarity™ workshop and has been a brand leader for companies in North America, the UK, South America, and Asia.
A copywriter by craft, he also creates effective written communication for clients in all media including advertising, packaging, social media, and web.
Clients on this front include Tim Horton’s, Fuji Film, Astro Yogurt, General Electric and Irving Paper. He was also instrumental in introducing the first-known use of QR coding on alcohol packaging in North America.
I recommend you check out his other work, he is a gifted writer and touches some delicate issues.
Please consider supporting the crowdfunding campaign for his new book.
For the 5th time NeuroGym´s fabulous and meanwhile famous Brain-A-Thon is taking place on
November 5th, 2016
As a reader of my blog, member of the AC community, or client, you have probably attended a Brain-A-Thon and experienced the incredible amount of knowledge and empowerment you gain from it.
I will send you a reminder if you are on my newsletter-list. But I do recommend that you mark the date in your calendar right away.
The time is not yet fixed. The event is scheduled for 6 hours, depending on your timezone you should reserve 8 am - 6 pm. The safest thing to do (because I am forgetful at times): Sign up for the 2016 replay and be sure to receive the latest news HERE
I consider this the most important self-help and success event of the year, and the value and knowledge transfer from this free event is unmatched.
If you have not yet heard about NeuroGym´s Winning the Game of Money, make sure you check out the links below.
As I said, the list of experts for the 2017 even is off chart. But decide for yourself:
NeuroGym Brain-A-Thon 2017
1. Dr. Srini Pillay- Harvard Professor - Specializing in overcoming self-doubt, fear, stress and anxiety about money and life.
2. Mark Waldman- World Class Brain Researcher- Specializing in letting go of limiting beliefs, negative emotions and bad habits.
3. Sharon Pearson- Overcoming life’s trauma’s expert- Letting go of the past and focusing on the now and future.
4. Dr. Evian Gordon- Leading Behavioral Neuroscientist – Recognizing and releasing the negative mental focus and disempowering emotions.
5. Dr. Daniel Friedland- Integrative Health Brain Expert- Turning your Money stress into your financial success.
6. Larry King- World’s Greatest Interviewer – No explanation needed
I guess you can tell that I am really excited. See you there?
1-Dr Daniel Friedland M.D: Chairman, The Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine. Turn Your Money Stress Into Financial Success- Stress can shut down your motivation, make you sick and and kill your chances for financial success. Daniel will show you how to gain control and redirect and leverage your brain’s natural stress response system to fuel your focus and energy so you earn more money and achievefinancial freedom.
2-Dr Evian Gordon M.D. PHD. World Renowned Neuroscientist - Get Unstuck: Maximize Your Brilliant Subconscious Mind. Almost everyone knows their real power is locked deep in their subconscious mind unfortunately, not many people know how to access it and use it to their advantage. Discover how to retrain your brain and get unblocked and unstuck from the hidden mental and emotional traps silently sabotaging your success and preventing you from achieving your fullest potential.
3-Dr Srini Pillay: Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical- Strategic Speed: Use Your Brain to Achieve Your Financial Goals Faster. Most people know there must be a faster way to achieve their financial goals, but they’ve never learned how to use their brains the right way to do it. Based on the latest brain research, you’ll discover how to unleash the genius parts of your brain so you can find and take the smartest path to financial success.
4-David Bach: One of America’s Most Trusted Financial Experts - The Automatic Millionaire. Believe it or not, most millionaires didn’t take the slow, painful road to riches. Join David, author of 9 New York Times Bestsellers, as he reveals counter intuitive thinking and simple behavioral patterns whichautomatically eliminate your debt, and grow your wealth so you retire comfortably and live the lifestyle you desire. ( even if you think it’s too late). Now is the time for you to get of the hamster wheel and start living life on your own terms.
5-Sharon Pearson: Neuro Linguistic Programming Expert- Break Free From Past Failures, Challenges, Stories, Circumstances or Excuses. Sharon will share how simple self-talk and mental focus techniques will retrain your brain and empower you to step up and live the biggest, best version of your life. You’ll discover how she transformed her life from seriously considering suicide to growing a $10 Million a year coaching business helping men and women overcome their challenges while following their deepest passions.
6-Mark Waldman: Expert Neuro-Coach and Brain Researcher - Change Your Brain. Transform Your Life. Mark will share the most advanced neuroscience-based methods you can immediately use to recognize and release any of your negative or destructive patterns. You’ll learn how to redirect negative thoughts, release unwanted emotions and stop your negative self judgement or self sabotaging behaviors.When you understand better how your brain works, you can literally rescript your money story and reshape your self worth and transform your results and life.
7-John Assaraf: Founder, NeuroGym. 2 Time New York Times Best Selling Author and Creator of Innercise
And last, but certainly not least… Larry King - The World’s Greatest Interviewer - will serve as the moderator for this star-studded guest expert panel. No explanation needed!
When Jim learned that the drinking water in his town is polluted for quite some time, he had every right to be angry. After all, he used the water to shower, cook coffee and most importantly to nourish his children.
The authorities did not share information about the degree of the contamination and which pollutants were found in the town´s drinking water.
His worry for the safety of his family and his anger that he did not get the information he so rightfully demanded, made Jim infuriated. I guess we can all sympathize with Jim and would have been angry too.
And the feeling of being helpless added to his anger. No matter how many times he called, he never seemed to be to be able to talk to the person in charge.
The problem concerned every person in the town so that they implemented a special phone number and hired agents to answer the enormous amount of calls from angry citizens. The agents had no authority whatsoever and certainly no detailed information about the degree of the problem.
In his last frustrating call, Jim got so angry that he started threatening the call center agent. It was not like Jim, but he told her that she should be careful because something might happen that would endanger the health of her family.
All of the calls get recorded, and the call center agent went to the police and filed a complaint. Jim had to pay a pretty high penalty and in addition to that, he was in deep trouble with his wife. Only when his wife told Jim that she would rather drink a whole cup of the toxic water than being married to a jerk did Jim come to his senses.
Jim started an action group and called it "transparency." The work group was soon able to get a court order that required the authorities to give them detailed information about the water quality and the pollutants the citizens had consumed.
Jim received a lot of appreciation from other citizens for leading the movement that influenced the speed of change. The group then continued to suggest actions to enhance the water quality and make sure of the safety of all citizens.
From troublemaker to changemaker
It happens to the best of us that sometimes we attack the bearer of bad news, rather than the source of the problem. Depending on the nature of the issue the source might be difficult to reach or persuade. Sometimes even impossible. That can make us impatient, and we could forget that we mean well and are uplifting, non-violent people.
We might engage in toxic behavior.
There are three problems with that:
we distract people's attention from the original problem
we behave hostile and hurtful towards people who neither have the authority to influence the change we are looking for nor have they created the problem
when we become aggressors, we will likely be seen as part of the problem, potentially the bigger one
It´s easy to get emotional about topics we consider important and "truth." The harder it is to influence the desired change, the easier is gets to occasional slip into a behavior that collides with who we are and what we want to achieve, especially when the "nobody cares" feeling kicks in.
In my opinion, PETA is a good example of this. I 100 % agree and support their important mission but occasional the wording and actions throw me off a little bit
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
We see it on LinkedIn
A great example for the right message gone wrong is LinkedIn. I don't go to LinkedIn to solve math puzzles or share cat pictures. But many people do, and I tolerate that. Meanwhile, there are as many people posting trivial content as there are people attacking it. A third group is attacking people who do either.
Not only is it counterproductive because it helps to spread the trivial post. LinkedIn's algorithm rewards engagement. It does not differentiate between negative and positive engagement. What makes it even more absurd is that disconnecting from people or hiding their posts costs a simple mouse click.
A scream for professionalism is most effective from people who act in a professional way, and not anti-social.
Some people go even further and would like to ban certain professions from the site altogether (for instance the topic you and I connect through, Empowerment). I am not sure if they consider how attacking the post of a plumber that is trying to promote his service makes that person feel.
I am sure though who will be perceived as the problem, or even a bully. Influencing change from the position of a "bully" is certainly harder.
If I am unhappy with a system of a site like LinkedIn there are three ways to deal with it that will not make people mad:
I can try to change it
I can remove myself
I can accept it
It seems like such a silly example, yet it is a good one as it stirs up so much emotion that it´s not an uncommon place to see a changemaker turn into a troublemaker.
This blog is not a political blog and will never be one. But each and every one of my readers also knows that I believe in humanity and treating people respectfully. I am not just a teacher of mindfulness but also a life long student. I make mistakes too.
Generally, I stick to the rule of attacking the sources of problems and not innocent people. Being hurtful and toxic is never okay in my book and before you know it you are the one in the wrong.
Please understand my statement from a humanitarian and pragmatic point of view.
It is every citizen's rights to be concerned about changes that seem to endanger their culture. It is also every human's right to look out for his safety and the safety of his family.
Attacking a person that executes his right to make sure of his survival and the survival of his family will most certainly only change people´s perception of us - not create change or constructive discussion.
Those are just two obvious examples you and I see every day. Examples where I wished people would show a bit more empathy before they decide on appropriate actions to reach their goal.
The "how to create change" question can probably never be answered in a universal statement. It´s dependent on too many factors. But here are some general thoughts on how to wrap an idea in a non-toxic way:
To create change we have to modify the source of a problem
Becoming an aggressor can distract from our intention and message
Generalizing can lead to hurting people we are potentially not aiming at
Whenever we are a part of a diverse community or society, empathy and tolerance go a long way when attempting to influence change
Having realistic expectation regarding the time, measures and traction needed to influence change can help with frustration
We could reflect from time to time to make sure that our behavior is still in line with our intention and goal.
Changemakers chose constructive approaches while troublemakers most of the time do not help a solution.
Each of our actions creates crimps through a matrix of causality that we cannot see at first.