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Are You Taking On Too Much At Once?

When you engage in multi-tasking, the results can be quite less than satisfying

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It’s understandable these days that many people, faced with a unique set of circumstances, brought on by mask and vaccination mandates, are grappling with ways to get things done. When one attempts to take on too much at once, however, and perhaps engages in multi-tasking, the results can be quite less than satisfying.

Consider this: A magnifying glass held up at the correct angle to the sun will quickly burn a whole through a piece of paper. At the same time, no matter how much sun shines through your office window onto your desk, none of those long and tedious memos are going to catch on fire. The lack of combustibility has nothing to do with the way the manufacturer engineered this flat piece of glass.

In our current era of multi-taskers, concentration and focus are underrated. Multi-tasking is occasionally helpful and seemingly satisfying but, along with the shower of information and communication overload, represents a paradoxical impediment to getting things done. Let’s see why.

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More Speed, Less Comprehension

The term multitasking evolved from the computer industry, the early mainframe computers designed with parallel processes is perhaps the prime example of automated multi-tasking. Today, with the typical office professional sending or receiving more than 200 messages a day, counting all forms of communication, and all of them coming and going at shorter intervals, a generation of career professionals are being driven virtually to distraction.

Facing information and communication overload, ever-advancing technology, and more choices than anyone needs or even wants, nearly an entire workforce generation has been ‘taught’ to multitask as if this is the way it has always been, needs to be, and always will be. We offer our attention here, there, and then somewhere else. Like a one-man band, we get our strokes from strumming the guitar, tapping our foot, and blowing on the harmonica.

Too often, we equate flapping our wings, stirring up a lot of commotion, and making a lot of noise with accomplishment. We can barely tolerate stillness. For many, silence doesn’t appear to be golden, it seems more like a dark space. Undivided attention is a term that has fallen out of popular use.

Generally, we feel guilty if we don’t multi-task! We contemplate our increasing workloads and responsibilities and how they are subject to continual shifts, and justify multi-tasking as a valid response to a world of flux.

The Task at Hand

Despite the temptation to do otherwise, focusing on the task at hand is vital to getting things done. Whether there’s a handful of tasks confronting you, or ideally only one, give all your time, attention, energy, focus, concentration, effort, and all that good stuff to the task at hand, and then turn to what’s next.

Multi-tasking seemingly enables one to achieve time-saving benefits, but does it? While some people remain relatively unscathed by multi-tasking and can get as much done in the course of the workday, most people suffer in ways they don’t even understand.

Rather than increasing their productivity, multi-tasking diminishes it. They make more mistakes. They leave too many things undone. Their quality of work is not what it could be. And the list of potential hazards of multi-tasking is beginning to grow. Are you a victim to any of the following:

* Gaps in short-term memory?
* Loss of concentration?
* Problems communicating with co-workers?
* Lapses in attentiveness?
* Stress symptoms such as shortness of breath?

Crash Mode

When multi-tasking, sometimes your brain can go into a crash mode. This is characterized by not being able to remember what you just said or did, or what you’re going to do next! This has been termed “having a senior moment,” but it’s no joke and it doesn’t only happen to seniors.

Professor David Meyer at the University of Michigan has established a link between chronic high-stress, multi-tasking and loss of short-term memory. “There is scientific evidence that multi-tasking is extremely hard for someone to do, and sometimes impossible,” he says. Then, the time lost switching between tasks tends to increase the perceived complexity of the tasks and often results in making a person less efficient than if he had chosen to focus on one task or project at time.

Research conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health confirms that when the brain has to juggle several tasks at once or in rapid succession, it has to overcome “inhibitions” that it put in place to cease doing the task. It’s as if the brain is taking its foot off the break.

The Vital Keys

Focus and concentration will be your keys for getting things done. Multi-tasking, as it is popularly understood and practiced, is not your answer. It is expensive in terms of the level of stress induced and the rise in errors and, hence, can actually hamper productivity.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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News

A Compound National Fracture

Our 246-year experiment in representative democracy is rapidly fraying at the edges

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If Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he’d be appalled at the fractionalization of our nation. No one can guarantee the USA will exist for the duration of the decade, let alone the next several years.

Our 246-year experiment in representative democracy is rapidly fraying at the edges, and not merely because of anarchists and agitators funded by one-world globalists, or because of perpetually contested elections. Big money has always been the controlling factor in Washington D.C. Today, the levels of influence peddling are unprecedented and getting worse.

Evaporating Middle Ground

Democrats and Republicans once sought to join together on critical issues for the good of the Union, at least some of the time. Today partisan politics predominates. We now approach $30 trillion in debt and $164 trillion in unfunded liabilities, equal to 492,000 per citizen, This a level that is unconscionable and represents theft of our children’s and grandchildren’s heritage. Concurrently, Communist China operates in the foreground to undermine our every institution.

The sentiment that the U.S. is a global force for good is a sentiment shared by at least half of our friends around the globe, and even begrudgingly by our enemies after the dust settled — think Germany and Japan — but the sentiment cannot be as potent when there is constant internal strife. Domestic dissension and sedition, the lobbying stranglehold, and treason has left our friends befuddled and our enemies bemused and emboldened.

Meanwhile, the world is suffering, beyond the ravages of the coronavirus and in ways that few people could have predicted. More refugees populate the earth than ever before. Human trafficking, often a euphemism for sexual slavery, is a blight on “civilized” societies. The world population is now approaching 8.0 billion people up from 5.0 billion people in 1985.

Madness in Motion

In the U.S. whether or not the libstream press will address the reality, the waves of illegal immigrants from 2008 to 2022 have strained our resources. Local and state governments are bursting at the fiscal seams, while Biden and crew keep the floodgates open.

Crime is rampant among communities with an influx of illegal aliens. A visit to the Drug Enforcement Administration website reveals the country of origin of those criminals most wanted by the D.E.A. in cities across America. Hint: Overwhelming it is Mexico.

Despite record amounts spent on education, our schools were already failing, before the current shutdowns. Minority academic underachievement has been near-constant for decades, even in the most “progressive” communities with the most “progressive-thinking” teachers. Hordes of immigrant children, primarily hailing from Latin America, further strain school districts.

Splitting along Ideological Lines

On the East Coast and the West Coast, deep pockets of liberalism prevail. In the center of the country, conservatism prevails. Communities are organizing along political divisions and feel “the other side” simply doesn’t get it: espousing policies, theories, and beliefs contrary to the best interests of our civilization.

I don’t wish to reside in a land dominated by a polarized news media, the current Senate and Congressional leaders, billionaire “progressives” bent on censorship, sell-out corporations, a two-tier justice system, and a school system designed to poison the minds of our children.

The U.S. might fracture and become two or three countries. The geography for such a partition, of course, is not convenient. How do you combine California, Oregon, and Washington, with New England and the left-leaning Mid-Atlantic States? They are joined together by ideology, while thousands of miles apart. And, if we the U.S. were to split into two nations, beyond the inconvenient geography many problems would occur from legal, political, and trade standpoints.

No Unity, No Future

In any case, we cannot continue in the current mode. The far-left is pulling away from everyone else in the nation, even from patriotic rank and file Democrat. Many people would just as soon let the rabble-rousers go: What is the point of seeking to maintain the Union with people who fervently wish to “re-educate” you?

All the above points to the reality that the U.S. as we know it could soon be irretrievable.

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Life

Finding Meaning in Daily Activities, Even Now

You are creating your life every day; every choice you make determines the quality of your life

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If you’re like me, each day you shudder to think what new, nation-destroying ploy, or blunder, the Biden administration will foist upon us next. In our own lives, nevertheless, while awaiting November 2022 and the chance to take back the Senate and House, we have the opportunity to find meaning nearly each day.

In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Remen tells a story about a doctor who had to deliver a baby in the hallway of the emergency room area. He had delivered other babies but not like this. While swabbing the baby’s face, she opened her eyes and looked right at him: he was the first person she had ever seen.

This experience changed the doctor’s way of proceeding. He regarded this as sacred moment. He remembered why he chose this line of work. He felt validated. His cynicism fell away. He became more invigorated, more inspired, and started to interact with more of his patients and his co-workers. Soon, he was invited to events he had never participated in before. His whole world opened up.

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Now, he seeks such moments constantly.

A Capacity that Builds

Finding meaning is a capacity that we build, like a muscle. When you first started in your current career position, finding meaning was not an issue. You were excited. There was so much you wanted to do. You had all kinds of plan. Then, years passed.

Little by little you became jaded perhaps. Why did I choose this line of work? Why can’t I find competent help? Why are customer or clients so demanding?

It is possible, even now in this time of turmoil, to reinvent yourself on the job, to rediscover what initially attracted you to this profession and what the current possibilities might be. Sometimes the re-awakening is triggered by attending a conference or convention, taking a course, reading a vital book, or spending time with a colleague or peer.

Goodbye to Yesterday

Today and the days that follow do not have to be extensions of what came before. You do not have to proceed into the future looking through a rear view mirror. A world of choices awaits, even if in the same old position you’ve been holding down for years.

Will you make new choices? And what will drive those choices?

Discovering or rediscovering meaning is about getting clear on what’s most important to you and aligning your choices with those priorities. It’s about living and working with intention instead of operating on autopilot or by default, where one day looks exactly like the next.

So, What Matters Right Now?

Start by identifying what’s most important to you …today, not what was important five, ten, or 20 years. Is it creativity, or perhaps collaboration? Maybe it’s impact or flexibility?

Next, identify what professional – and this might be different than your current profession! – and personal goals align with those priorities. What does living or working more creativity look like? If, say, collaboration matters to you, how can you incorporate more collaboration into the work you do?

From here, you’ll want to pinpoint actions or choices that support those goals. Where are your current choices in or out of alignment with what you’ve identified as most important? What new, more intentional choices can you make?

Each and Every Day

Consider this: You are creating your life every day. Every choice you make, action or inaction, determines the quality of your life. If not now, when: Making the choice to live and work with intention and in alignment is the key to cultivating a life of meaning and fulfillment.

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