Post Lockdown: Are You Juggling Too Many Tasks?        - Politicrossing
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Post Lockdown: Are You Juggling Too Many Tasks?       

Concentration and focus are under rated in our current era of multitasking

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As traffic starts to mount up everywhere, and more people are heading back to office, is the ill-advised practice  of multi-tasking regaining a foothold? Considering all that you need to do personally and professionally, are you attempting to handle too much?

These days, we all seem to be human doings, not human beings. Unfortunately, we give short shrift to concentration and focus. Indeed, concentration and focus are under rated in our current era of multitasking.

Consider this: A magnifying glass held up at the correct angle to the sun will quickly burn a hole through a piece of paper: concentration and focus. Meanwhile, no matter how much sun shines through your office window onto your desk, none of those 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.

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Multi-tasking is occasionally helpful and satisfying but, along with the shower of information and communication overload, represents a paradoxical impediment to getting things done. Let’s see why.

Faster and Less Attentive

The term multi-tasking evolved from the computer industry, the early mainframe computers designed with parallel processes is perhaps the prime example of automated multi-tasking.

In many respects, the computer has accelerated our inattentiveness.  Personal computers achieved critical mass in 1981 with the introduction of the Apple Computer designed as an alternative to the IBM PC.  The affordable technology enabled us all to engage in sequential activities and elevate our propensity to become task-switchers.

Then for many reasons, and some so bizarre that they defy description, over the next 40 years we began to emulate our computers, multi-tasking while they multi-tasked.

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. A number of the messages are fleeting, the meaning often unclear, and the result a listless and confused workforce.

Against the back drop of information and communication overload, ever-advancing technology, and more choices than anyone needs or even wants, an entire workforce generation has been taught to multi-task as if this is the way it has always been, needs to be, and always will be.

Continuous Partial Attention

Undivided attention is a term that has fallen out of use! Multitasking has become a norm giving rise to “continuous partial attention,” where nothing gets your true and undivided focus, and everything is homogenized to the point of carrying nearly equal weight.

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. We equate accomplishment with flapping our wings, stirring up commotion, and making a lot of noise.

We can barely tolerate stillness. For many, silence doesn’t appear to be golden; it seems more like a dark space, lacking productivity that can yield nothing useful.

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.

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.

Over-employed, and Undesired

It’s likely that people have always sought to handle many things simultaneously, stretching as far back as cave dwellers. Their multi-tasking effort probably seemed crude by comparison. Someday, somewhere, someone may discover that we are hardwired to continuously attempt to economize our use of time.

Our age old “flight or fight” response to perceived stressors in the environment works well, at intermittent times. The small jolts of concentrated energy and vigilance helps us to safeguard ourselves, our loved ones, and our possessions.

As a species however, we are not wired to effectively handle continuous streams of two major stress hormones — adrenaline and cortisol — on a daily basis.

Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., director of the neuroendocrinology lab at Rockefeller University, observes that while we can apparently weather stresses and rapid hormonal changes in the short term, about 3 to 15 days, soon thereafter chronic stress begins to ensue.

The result is a weakened immune system, aggression, anxiety and a decrease in brain functioning which results in burnout. Dangerously high levels of cortisol can result in poor sleep patterns and insulin resistance, which can open the door to bad eating habits and weight gain.

 

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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

Get Coached, Get Better

If you feel as if your career progression is not sufficent, you likely need a career coach

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No boss, coworker, peer, spouse, parent, relative, friend, or anyone else, will accompany you through each job. You alone will be with yourself every step of your career journey; you’re it! You’re the only one who can increase the your career prospects, the quality of your relationships, your self-confidence, and your peace of mind.

Work With a Coach

I was fortunate early in my career to recognize the need to retain a career coach. In a nutshell, a career coach can help:

* diagnose and sort out your situation and opportunities

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* offer new strategies for coping with office politics and competition from other firms

* show you vital stress management skills

* discover or capitalize on new opportunities

A good coach provides new tools to chart your goals and career path, and improve communication. Your career coach can be your positive personal, behind-the-scenes confidant, consultant, and resource.

The Benefit From a Career Coach

If you lack self-confidence, or feel as if your career progression is not on the right track, or are faced with any of the following, then it’s likely you need a career coach:

1. Organizational changes within your organization especially if they have a direct impact on you.

2. Acquisitions or mergers.

3. Expansion into new markets.

4. Diversification into new products or services.

5. Increased competition to your firm from other firms trying to take over your market share.

6. Increased management or supervisory responsibility.

7. Increased leadership opportunities.

8. A recent or soon-to-be available promotion.

9. A new boss, or leadership shake-up above you.

10. Changes in your role or assignments within your company.

11. In-company competition and power plays, corporate intrigue, jockeying for position, or turf protection.

12. Blockades of your progress by internal feuds or informal political processes.

13. Increased media exposure or public speaking requirements.

14. Increased production or sales quotas.

15. A new project you must lead or participate in developing.

For several years I worked with a career coach – we met only once quarterly for two hours but I would depart supercharged.

An Employment Contract

You coach might be able to guide you on the topic of employment contracts. The notion of generating an employment contract has been around for decades, yet most career professionals to this day know what an employment contract is, how to draw one up, or how to ensure that they only work with a contract in force.

Among other things, my coach advised me on the importance of establishing a contract. When I first heard this, I was amazed. “You mean that I am to march into my boss’s office and suggest that we develop a contract that defines both the company’s and my responsibilities over the next twelve months?” Yes. Exactly!

In all industries, the most valuable people work with a contract. This is true in the NBA, Fortune 500 companies; philanthropic groups; the highest levels of government; and civic, social, and charitable organizations. The top talent works under an employment contract.

A Huge Boost

Among other things, having an employment contract is a great confidence booster. Essentially, it defines your working conditions for the length of a specified term. It establishes your compensation rate. It practically secures your employment.

What’s more, the contract enhances your confidence while you’re writing it, and it gives you practice in assertiveness. This occurs when you first introduce the subject with your prospective or current employer and when you actually conduct the session to consummate the contract negotiation.

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Business

Hear Me Roar

Top achievers are not dramatically different from you or me; they have useful skills and outlooks …that we can acquire

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Deborah Benton, author of Lions Don’t Need to Roar, is a leadership expert. She has observed hundreds of CEOs, COOs, and company presidents, seeking to find what enables them to accomplish so much.

In her book, she notes that while it’s essential to exhibit competence in one’s position, inspire confidence in others, act accordingly at business functions, and become adept at maneuvering within the firm, it takes something more to make it to the top as a strong leader.

Benton says, “Top people are not magical, blessed, or dramatically different from you or me. They simply have skills and outlooks that the rest of us don’t have, but can get.” Here are some important tips for those who seek to stand out as strong leaders within their organizations:

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Continually Explore New Options

With al of the advances in every profession and the new forms of competition springing from everywhere, to “coast” today is to “roast.” Top achievers in every profession understand that staying put can be risky, so they take decisive action.

In their book, Surfing the Edge of Chaos: The Laws of Nature and the New Laws of Business, authors Richard Pascale, Mark Millemann, and Linda Gioja argue that “equilibrium is a precursor to death.”

The individuals who get things done have the guts to speak in front of others and take calculated risks (recognizing that the experience will be invaluable).

Could this mean that on the path to high achievement, now and then you’re going to fail? The notion of taking calculated risks runs deep among the career achievers.

Be a People Person

A popular stereotype holds that high-achievers tend to be stodgy types. However, Benton finds the situation to be the opposite. Such career professionals laugh and smile often, are fond of telling stories (as long as they convey a point), and know how and when to physically touch others.

They’re also well-skilled in the ability to ask for favors, and they realize how important that makes others feel.

Regardless of how much society advances technologically, those individuals who stand out as strong leaders will take risks, learn from errors, and advance because of their strong ability to interact with others.

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