Spend a day singletasking

Today I was almost run over by a distracted driver. She was talking on her cell phone, fiddling with the radio and balancing a cup of Starbucks as she drove. A drunk driver would have been less dangerous.

A few years ago, when working at Yahoo, I saw a distracted manager slowly strangle his group with ineffectiveness. He never did one task at a time, no he was a multi-task master. He grazed on email, surfed the web, hacked away at a spreadsheet and talked on his speakerphone — all while meeting with his direct reports. He thought he was being super effective, in fact he was hopeless dilluted (or deluded).

Do you really think that driving is a no-brainer, leaving you excess capacity to spend on a cell phone call? Do you really think that your work projects are so easy that you can do them in your sleep? Do you really think you have the mental strength to try and juggle several tasks with freaking out?

Stop multi-tasking. Let it go. For one day, I suggest next Monday, single task everything you do. If you are going to check email, schedule that time and ONLY do that. If you have a meeting, leave all devices and stray thoughts at your desk and fully pour your attention into the meeting. Working on a report? Just do the report and turn off your email client or web browser. Most likely, you’ll find that your work is much better when you single task. Try this when you drive too. Just drive. We’d all appreciate it.