Karen Leland’s recent article in Chief Learning Office Magazine entitled The Time-Literate Organization is relevant to anyone who touches digital media today. In previous posts I have described how multi-tasking is actually a brain productivity killer. As a serial processing system, the brain is not designed to do two things at once. In the article, Karen cites some important statistics:
- On average workers spend only 10.5 minutes on a task before being interrupted.
- It takes an average of 23 minutes to return to the original task – not to mention the time required to mentally re-engage with the task to be effective.
- We are attempting to manage 15 projects a day (vs. 5 in the past).
- 50% of us are either handling too many tasks at one time or are frequently interrupted in the workday, or both.
- The typical executive spends 4.5 hours a week looking for lost papers.
The demands now placed on all of us are not only increasing the number of things we need to attend to, shortening the time we have available, but also increasing the complexity of the work, as the breadth of task types has exploded often beyond our “normal” scope and preferences. We are indeed living in The Era of And, but I believe we can make our brains more time literate by paying attention to our natural preferences and energy level.
I have started applying our research on Whole Brain® Thinking to better manage and deal with the never ending onslaught of items that hits my virtual desk. If you apply Archimedes Principle of Displacement, which states that when you choose to do something you are by default choosing to not do something else, you need to make intentional mental choices about where your time and mental energy will go.
Often we find ourselves doing things that we would rather do as opposed to what we have to do as part of our criteria in prioritization. For example, I know from my HBDI® Profile that I really prefer not to do administrative tasks, and they will often be those tasks that get relegated to the next day, later on or never.
Using the Whole Brain® Walk-Around, I sort my tasks into the types of mental requirements demanded by them. Next, from my HBDI® data, I know that my energy level is greatest late at night. My experience has shown me that I’m better off doing low-preference tasks (B) in the early morning timeframe and “rewarding myself” with high-preference tasks late in the day. I can use the late-at-night timeframe for those tasks that fall clearly in my strongest preference zones – more creative (D) and analytical tasks (A), as you can see from my profile.
What do you do to get through your digital onslaught? Try looking at your preferences and then walking around the brain to prioritize.