People who believe they can multi-task effectively share a dangerous delusion: that paying attention to several things simultaneously actually increases their available attention above 100 percent, so they can still focus fully on every task. This is logical nonsense.
- via "Slow Leadership"
I've recently come to a similar conclusion about my attention span and organizational capabilities. I had noticed that I was starting to deal with hundreds of small things on a near-simultaneous basis. All very tactical. Almost all "low yield". Things like slavishly attending to voicemail and email, responding to individual customer inquiries, shepherding office renovation details and so on.
Each of these jumped onto my radar and demanded to be dealt with. Often, they would present themselves as "very large problems", when in fact, they were just a series of "little issues". Few of them actually needed my specific attention and probably could have been dealt with more effectively by other people in the organization.
This only became a problem when I started opening the door to these kinds of details last summer when I took over responsibility for what became the retail services team. At the time, there was no team - in fact, no staff at all except for a small customer help desk team. That meant that I had no choice but to do everything else, and all the little problems slid right in to fill up my time.
Almost a year later, staffing is in place, and there's no reason for me to keep the door open to all of the tiny little things that are vying for my attention. Realizing this a month or so ago, I began to very aggressively back out of a lot of these excess commitments, and more importantly, trying to stay focused on solving one really big problem at a time. For instance, rather than pitching in and answering specific customer complaints and help requests personally, I pushed for the implementation of clearer and cleaner escalation processes so that everyone on the team could redirect misguided customer requests to the right desk so that specific subject matter experts could sort out the issue.
The biggest challenge lies with staying focused on what the big issues are, and what their relative priority is versus all the other big issues. This is most certainly a moving target and not a day goes by when I don't re-evaluate these priorities based on discussions with the team. I'm finding that the specifics of the priorities is less important than making sure that everyone on the team has a shared understanding and ownership of the priorities.
In addition to keeping the lines of communication and understanding open, I've also taken some smaller steps to ensure that staying focused is much more possible. This includes;
The sum of these approaches has helped me create a very serial workflow. By reducing my dependancy on technology, I've freed up more time for discussion and interaction. This leads to more fertile input for whatever it is that I'm working on. Incorporating that input into my documents, leads to a better basis for future discussions, which leads to more interactions. The eventual output of all of this is that I'm finding it much easier to help my people understand our operational context, so that they can more effectively contribute to the overall goals of the team.
The real trick lies with staying focused on executing the process and resisting the obvious distractions. I'm a neophyte practitioner in the regimen I've outlined, but I am seeing signs that I'm making progress. My goal is to repeat these tactics long enough to turn them into a real habit and avoid the risks associated with believing that I can multi-task my way through the day.
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jamessmithforum - Tue 15 Dec 2009 03:21 AM EST
ahmed100 - Tue 08 Dec 2009 06:49 AM EST
Andrew C - Fri 04 Dec 2009 09:57 PM EST
maxvoice - Mon 30 Nov 2009 06:33 AM EST
ahmed1212 - Thu 19 Nov 2009 09:20 PM EST