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The Multi-Tasking Myth
Glancing through the window, you see someone behaving erratically, shifting focus from one thing to another every ten to fifteen seconds. This goes on as you continue to watch … ten seconds focused here, the next ten somewhere else. After 30 minutes, you watch her shoulders slump followed by a momentary sigh before she dives back in to her seemingly awkward routine.
If you’re thinking this is someone with ADD or ADHD, think again. This is a pattern of behavior of millions of people engaging in a routine often referred to as multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking is a myth, as we are incapable of effectively doing more than one thing at a time. Some may dismiss this, but take a moment to observe someone who claims to be multi-tasking. Watch long enough, and you’ll see that the individual may move from one thing to another every few seconds, but at no point in time is he or she really doing multiple things at once.  ;
By promoting multi-tasking as a desirable work trait, companies have infected their cultures with the workplace equivalent of ADHD, Corporate ADD (Attention Divided Dilemma). Instead of giving their full attention to what’s in front of them, employees suffering from Corporate ADD are constantly shifting gears while never gaining momentum. Work declines as important functions are incomplete, inaccurate, or of insufficient quality. Everyone suffers as customers receive distracted service, employees exhaust themselves, and managers are increasingly frustrated with the overwhelm of their responsibilities.
There is no medication for this version of ADD, nor is one required. The solution simply requires leaders to promote a healthy culture of work, including:
- Single-tasking, a dedicated focus on the task at hand.
- Maintaining boundaries to minimize distractions that are almost always less important than the task at hand.
- Avoiding drive-by leadership and, instead, meeting with employees once or twice daily to disseminate important information.
Radical Accountability requires us to be honest about what works, and what does not. Anything that truly matters deserves our full, undivided attention, not the distractedness that is perpetuated by Corporate ADD.
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Pick single-tasking, better boundaries, or avoiding drive-by leadership as your initial focus and take action on implementing it this week.
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