Multitasking Is Not Truly A Productive Way To Lead
As mentioned in the previous post on How Leaders Can Win The Distractions Battle, it is far better to handle the most challenging mental tasks early in the day when cognitive resources are at a peak.
This is why I counsel leaders to use the morning period for extremely mentally taxing tasks such as brainstorming, evaluating options, absorbing new information, delivering feedback, and writing strategic documents. The last thing a leader should be doing to start their day is holding a series of project status meetings or reviewing budget projections.
Speaking of which, when is the brain most rested, from a work perspective? Probably on Monday mornings after a series of non-work related weekend activities (though maybe slightly less so this morning for football fans since today is Super Bowl Monday).
So the greatest waste of one’s rested brain power would be to engage in a weekly 9am team meeting on Monday mornings of round-the-table information sharing and routine work planning sessions. Better to use that time slot for something more meaningful, while the cognitive resource tank is full.
For this reason, I now advise leaders to never schedule weekly staff meetings on Monday mornings before 11am. After lunch is an even better time. After all, the cognitive resources of their staffs are also filled to the brim in the morning and should not be wasted or drained through mundane weekly staff meetings.
As mentioned before, multitasking is not truly a productive way to lead, nor to accomplish major tasks. While it may seem like doing lots of things at once is the height of efficiency, the constant switching between email correspondence, phone conversations, and other task activities prevents the brain from focusing and engaging in deep problem-solving cognitive processing.
So do yourself — as well as your team and your organization — and stop multitasking. They, and your brain, will be most appreciative.
This article is excerpted from my recent book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.