Multitasking Results in Leaders Operating in “Mind Full” Mode
As mentioned in the previous post, multitasking is not truly a productive way to lead. Nor is it an effective way 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.
Yes, the brain will get a dollop of dopamine through the self-satisfaction and rewarding feelings that come from knocking a multitude of items off the to-do list. However, this is usually a short-term hit similar to the short-term burst of energy gained from a chocolate candy bar or a caffeinated beverage.
A better strategy, one that will allow you to keep annoying distractions at bay, is to set aside prioritized time for critical and important tasks. Then work through each task one at a time, giving each your full attention, focus, and concentration. This will also help prevent leadership derailment.
Remember, busy leaders are not effective leaders. You do not want to be a leader who is constantly operating in “mind full” mode.
This strategy works best when you can ensconce yourself in a work environment (i.e. an office or small meeting room with a closed door) that prevents your fellow colleagues (and even your boss) from interrupting you. A good set of noise-canceling headphones helps as well, as long as the music you listen to is not distracting.
If you think this is taking things too far, remember this: it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after an interruption, according to Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California Irvine. Even more disturbing (pun intended), her research also shows that a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption.
Avoiding work disturbances and interruptions is critical for successful cognitive activity by leaders, and directly impacts the quality of decision making, thinking, and outcomes.
And this is why leaders need to get out of “mind full” mode as often as possible, especially when weighing options and making decisions.
This article is partially 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.