My name is a Kathy and I am an addict. My addiction is multi-tasking. I would go so far as to say, for most of my life it has been my identity and one of my proudest achievements. I could do so many things at once and get them done and never miss a deadline. Afterwards, I could look back at what I had achieved and remember little or nothing about it and set off on my next set of competing priorities. I am not unique; I think our 24-7-365 technology obsessed culture expects it and nearly demands it.
I am not going to lie, in all the things I have been trying to do to be that kinder, gentler, and more there me, multi-tasking is the siren hardest to resist. To truly do one thing completely, solely through to completion fully engaged, is harder than riding unicycle on a high wire while reading. It is hard to make that commitment to yourself. The reality is nobody else really cares if you do things one at a time or if you are in the office leafing through a report, while writing a performance review for your direct reports, and using your foot dial in by speaker phone to a global conference call as long as it gets done, right? Maybe. Let’s think about your employee’s performance review. How much value will they gain from the work you squeezed in to check that box? What if you took a set time really thought about their performance through the year, where they want to go, what strengths they possess and what strengths they need to build? They would probably get more value. Isn’t that our job as managers, to grow people?
If that can happen at work imagine what it would be like to eat dinner with your loved ones free of TV, cellphones, and video games. What if it was about the food and truly listening to their day. Multi-tasking has addictive qualities, it makes you feel a little superior, extra productive, and don’t forget that checklist. Being fully present in our lives has its own rewards. We can actually enjoy the people in our lives. We become more grateful for all we have. Those memories we make will be more vivid.
If you fully engage in what you are doing you also get to fully experience it. I have found out that the times I have done this successfully the quality of my interactions and results have improved. I still struggle with this. It is hard to undo an ingrained habit of 4 decades, The beauty is I don’t have to completely undo the habit to benefit and hopefully benefit those in my life. Every step forward helps.