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Current Events Consumer, Beware

We each need to make good choices about where to give our time and attention

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When TV first became popular, many people predicted that movies would cease to be a part of American culture. That did not happen. Many people predicted that TV would replace radio, yet there are ten times the number of radio stations today than when TV was introduced.

When VCRs and then DVDs grew in popularity, again people predicted movie theaters would wane. Yet, a record number of people own DVD players and in a normal year a record number also go to the movies.

Each entertainment/communication/technology breakthrough doesn’t tend to replace what came before. Witness that we still have radios, TVs, and movie theaters, in addition to DVDs, DVRs, streaming video, podcasts, and Youtube. Rather than giving up what came before, often we create a niche for each of these items. Meanwhile, they each require another bit of our lives.

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The Lure of the Latest

Thirty to forty years ago, it was enough to catch the news from across the state; now, if a train crashes in Tokyo, we hear about it in minutes. Bombarded by news at all times, ours has become a 24-hour society. Oddly, many people feel as if it is their civic duty to keep up, lured by media slogans such as, “We won’t keep you waiting for the latest.”

Is the “latest” the most important or even close to what humanity, society, or a community needs to know?

Among the over-50 crowd, why do people feel guilty or inefficient if they don’t keep pace with current events? They grew up with messages, slogans, and catch phrases drilled into them from birth that said, “Give us 24 minutes and we’ll give you the world,” and “All the news that’s fit to print.” These messages were hardly true decades ago. Today, they are ludicrous.

Actually, more information is newly generated on Earth in a single second than could be ingested in the rest of our lives.

Not the Way it Was or Is

“And that’s the way it is…” No, Mr. Cronkite, you were over-generalizing. That’s the way a handful of news executives, producers, and writers decided it would be conveyed to the public. What got broadcast was a fraction of a sliver of what was occurring in the world.

With the vast array of Leftist gatekeepers, propagandists, and censors at Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Disney, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, etc. the challenge before us today is clear.

We each need to make choices about where to give our time and attention, and to have the mental and emotional strength to let go of the rest. We need to pay attention and take action in the key areas that matter to us.

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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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Business

The People Who Size You up Instantly

Beware of people who conveniently assess what you need, while missing the boat about their own needs

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I went to a social gathering and, arriving early, few others had arrived. So I took out my notepad and pen, and leisurely started making notes. A lady who saw me, asked what I was writing, which, of course, could be either a friendly way to start a conversation, or intrusive, depending on your point of view. I took it as the former, and shared with her my predisposition to take notes outside of my office where I generate ideas that don’t readily emerge at my desk.

Apparently my explanation was not satisfactory for her. In rapid succession she told me, ‘You need to get a drink. (Actually, I don’t drink.) You should to stop making notes. You ought to relax. (Making notes is relaxing to me.) You need to get a life.’

Paradoxically, I am the author of the books, Breathing Space and Simpler Living, and the audiobook, Get a Life. I also own the registered trademarks for the programs, Relaxing at High Speed and Managing the Pace With Grace. I have delivered 1,060 lectures on these topics for three decades.

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Quick and Wrong

It’s beyond strange when someone at a social gathering, in such short order, will assess what I need to do, with one pronouncement after another. When told that I needed to relax, I said, “If I was any more relaxed, I’d fall asleep.”

I came away from that experience recognizing that people who will readily tell you what you need are the ones who need what they’re telling you. You might have noticed a somewhat similar phenomenon in the workplace.

Suppose you work in a company that is crowded, noisy, and busy almost all the time. However, in your own office or cubicle, whichever the case might be, you’re able to maintain order.

Perhaps you have installed some sound barriers, if that is appropriate, and have crafted a workspace where you can get things done. People who walk by notice that your office equipment, resources, and possessions are organized. Guess what? Some office mates won’t tell you this, but they are uncomfortable with your organizing skills.

If they could find a simple way to articulate it, they would tell you, “Loosen up.” You don’t need to be so neat and orderly.” Why are they itching to tell you this? Because your level of organization makes them feel inadequate.

Be Like Me, I’ll Feel Better

Much like the lady at the social gathering, who told me ‘what I needed,’ some people in your immediate environment, in observing your capacity for taking charge of your space, and perhaps noting your higher-than-average level of productivity, would rather that you acted and proceeded in a different way. You might not hear that from them, but that is some might be thinking.

Beware of those people who so conveniently assess what you need, while completely missing the boat about their own needs. They fail to realize that what they’re telling you, is probably what they need to address for themselves.

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Business

Micro-tasking for Effective Performance

Professionals who can micro-task are in demand while those who multitask often do a disservice

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Much as been discussed about multitasking and fortunately, much of what has been written exposes the myth that multitasking represents. Instead of making us more productive and having a greater output, we tend to slow down on the very things that were trying to speed up on, and we end up making more errors.

Micro-tasking, by contrast, is the ability to compartmentalize and to focus in quick, short intervals on a variety of items that compete for attention. This is a vital skill for career professionals. While micro-tasking is effective for quick decisions, and for handling routine and short term tasks term nature, multitasking is the attempt to handle two or more important tasks at the same time. It is not to be confused with micro-tasking.

A Skill to Cultivate

Some workers have little choice in the short run but to work in a distracting, noisy environment. Some employees, in particular, were retained to be able to quickly shift their attention from one issue to another, focusing on each issue as needed.

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In an interruption-based environment, such as a hospital, police station, retail store, or airline ticket counter, the ability to micro-task is a valuable skill.

Throughout the course of a day, a manager in such settings might encounter a variety of people asking questions and voicing concerns. For sale managers micro-tasking can make all the difference in making quota or not.

Slow Down!

Tasks that require our sharp attention necessitate that we slow down, focus, keep interruptions at bay, and work as effectively as we can, toward completion. Handling two tasks simultaneously, each of which require sharp attention, is a prescription for poor results.

Professionals who can micro-task are in demand. Others, who engage in multitasking, often are doing themselves as well as their organizations, a disservice.

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