I’ve prided myself on being a successful multi-tasker, ever since I started my first serious job after finishing my master’s degree in the 1980s. I was working in the marketing field at the time, and was responsible for 5 products at Nabisco Brands, along with a series of new product launches.
I had a boss who was a bit of a “Jack Bauer” type, often circumventing the chain of command so he could get stuff done faster than would otherwise be possible. I learned much from his lead, and as we launched scores of new products in record time, it felt a bit like we were running our own business even though we were working inside a mega-corporation. (In case you don’t watch 24, Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) is the star— the brilliant guy who always saves America from terrorist threats with his intense focus, personal strength and ability to keep going no matter how fearful the situation. He gets an incredible amount done because he sees many steps ahead while everyone else is stumbling around trying to follow the rules! If Jack wasn’t a counter-terrorist agent, he’d make a great entrepreneur!)
Watching my boss in action prepared me well for starting my first full-time business just before my 30th birthday. But the downside of his approach was that I too fell into that trap of imagining that I had a super-human ability to do more work than anyone else.
Which brings me to the myth of multi-tasking:
We live in a culture that celebrates multi-tasking as if it’s really possible to do 3 things at once, and therefore magically squeeze an extra 24 hours into our working day.
Many studies have shown that this isn’t possible though. The human brain can’t simultaneously engage in more than one activity that requires real thinking and processing. If you’ve ever tried to read an email while talking on the phone, you know that you are either doing one or the other at any given moment. And in all likelihood, the person you were speaking with was very aware that you weren’t really listening.
Multi-tasking works fine if one of the activities is fairly mindless. You can carry on a conversation while ironing, for example. Many of my students listen to the Staging Diva home staging course recordings while walking the dog, driving to a client meeting or cleaning the house. They can concentrate on what I’m saying because their other activity doesn’t require constant active thought.
Studies have shown that if you try to do two activities that require a lot of thought at the same time, your attention will go on and off each one (like the conversation you attempt to have while reading).
The problem is, each time you cycle back to what you were doing before the interruption, it can take you 10 to 15 minutes to mentally get back to where you were. So if you’re deep in thought writing a story for your newsletter, for example, and you stop to look at Twitter or Facebook for 5 minutes, you can lose another 10 minutes before you get back to what you were doing beforehand.
To give you another example of multi-tasking, someone just wrote to me for advice on combining multiple businesses. She is in a multi-level marketing scheme plus another business and she wants to add staging. This is totally possible; you just can’t work on all 3 businesses simultaneously.
Either divide up your time to focus on one business in the morning and another in the afternoon, or pick different days to devote to each one. They can all be built at the same time, but it’s key to focus on a single activity at a time to maximize your productivity.
For more detailed help and one-on-one support dealing with issues like this, consider Business Accelerator Coaching. During the coaching sessions I’ve done in the past 2 months, I’ve helped home stagers by:
- Identifying ways to reduce income tax by over 30%
- Delivering a reality check on their ideas and expectations
- Brainstorming names for their businesses
- Reviewing concepts for their business logos
- Critiquing a website and identifying ways to improve its search engine ranking
- Editing their text for their Staging Diva Directory listing
- Identifying ways to increase sales by up to 65%
- Getting them through an especially challenging staging project
- Improving on their real estate agent presentation
- Unraveling an overwhelming to-do list to focus on the highest payoff activities
- Reviewing home staging portfolios and identifying the strongest photos
- Beating down limiting assumptions
> You can get 50% off the price of one-on-one business coaching with me when you order the 5-course Staging Diva Training Program.