Want to Be More Productive? Stop Multitasking!
Most of us are proud of our multitasking abilities. Walking and chewing gum? What, are you kidding me? Of course I can do that. I can eat breakfast while tidying up the kitchen, brewing coffee, packing my lunch, and, if given the opportunity, petting my cat Geddy.
My sister Leah can hold the attention of 25 first-graders while adapting the lesson for all the different learners in her class, providing all the modifications her special-needs students require, and—who knew?—making the school day fun. And that’s just the curriculum! Leah is also tying shoes, tending to boo-boo, and others task, liking taking attendance. (I know, she’s a superstar!)
I once watched a multitasking master ride by on the road: an older woman riding her bike while reading a paperback and smoking a cigarette. I still wonder if she made it to her destination unscathed.
Multitasking is considered a boon, and it may seem like you’re cheating time by accomplishing many things simultaneously. Your day is so packed, it seems like knocking multiple to-dos off the list at once has got to be a win. But is it really? Please?
According to “Is Multitasking a Myth,” an article by guest blogger Dr. Mandi Sonnenberg, assistant professor at Rockhurst University on the SCDdaily, you’ll be far more effective if you focus on one task at a time. If you make a habit of multitasking, in fact, you’ll lose competence in many skills, including—poetic irony alert!—multitasking.
So how do we break the habit of multitasking? Dr. Sonnenberg’s article offers helpful suggestions for tuning in to the task at hand while in a meeting or class, and at home.
I’ll offer a few of my own suggestions for events, which you can pass on to your members prior to your next meeting or conference.
- Power down your cell phone. Try it! You just might like it. If that’s not possible in your situation, at least silence the ringer. (This is a matter of courtesy as well as personal focus.)
- Put down the pen. To listen more fully, don’t take notes. Many sessions are recorded, so you can go back if you forget that major point you heard. Slide decks are often provided as well to jog your memory. Odds are, if you really listen, you won’t need either.
- Eat, drink, and be merry . . . later. How distracting is that cup of coffee? It diverts your attention, as you attempt to gulp it down before it goes cold, and the attention of those around you, if you clink the cup on the saucer or (ack!) spill it.
- Save that conversation for the next break. Sure, you can feel like a co-conspirator with an acquaintance if you two whisper through a session. There is a bond formed when acting like bad kids in the back of the classroom. But is that why you came to this session? To this conference? To get the most out of your experience, feed your mind and the budding friendship—separately. Meet up afterwards to walk through the exhibits together.
What about when you’re preparing event content? Managing multiple vendors can feel just like multitasking, and in some sense, it is. Quiet your mind and simplify your day by using just one vendor for all types of event—make that association—content. From start to finish, Omnipress has your back.
- Abstract collection and management: It all starts here. We can help.
- Printed program: We’ve done this for decades. Let us handle it for you.
- Event content website: Put your event content online, where members want to see it.
- Mobile event app: What’s new at conferences? Mobile apps are becoming must-haves. Do you have … one?
- Digital publishing platform: Create a digital archive of association content, from session handouts to directories to magazines.
Maximize your effectiveness and clear your head of the hectic chatter you feel when multitasking. Of course, this may not be realistic for teachers and parents, but if you try it, a little at a time, you’ll be amazed how well you do one thing at a time.