Category: Leadership

Multi-tasking a lot? DON’T DO IT! Here’s why…

Photo by Oudom Pravat on Unsplash (what your brain is doing while you multi-task)

 

Multitasking. It is something that a lot of people have prided themselves on for a long time. Including me. But here’s what most people don’t know. It’s a trap. Trying to do 2 things at once. Or 14. Research would say that multitasking is one of the worst things you can do for your productivity. It ruins your output and can make your work similar to that of a child.

With the smart phone and all of its tempting abilities, and the access that technology provides, it’s become nearly impossible not to try and multitask. The sirens call to us beckoning us to work on many things at once.  But you must fight it. With everything you have. Focus is the key to getting things done.

Even the term multitasking is actually a misnomer. You actually can’t do more than one thing at a time. It’s not physically possible in reality. What we are actually doing is switching tasks. So the term that is used in the research is “task switching.”

10 results of multitasking/task switching

  1. Lower productivity by up to 40%
  2. Slower completion of the task
  3. More errors in the task
  4. The brain operates less efficiently
  5. The brain can become overloaded
  6. More stress
  7. Less overall energy
  8. Lower your IQ
  9. Less fulfillment from a job well done
  10. Can even damage your brain!

Travis Bradberry shares some sobering wisdom in a Forbes article. He writes: “A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night … in the average range of an 8-year-old child! So the next time you’re writing your boss an email during a meeting, remember that your cognitive capacity is being diminished to the point that you might as well let an 8-year-old write it for you.”

Solution

The brain works the best when it can focus on a single task for an extended period of time. So we must guard our focus. Do whatever it takes to work on one thing at a time. What is your best friend when it comes to productivity?  The airplane button. So swipe up, hit the little airplane, turn your phone off and watch your productivity soar. Like an airplane.

This post is adapted from a portion of the new book ADULTING 101 coming out April 3.  Andy Stanley says it’s a “must-read book for those entering the real world.”  For all grads ages 18-29.

 

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8 ways to get the most right stuff done in 2018

Photo by Robert Magnusson on Unsplash

 

The Big rocks.  The main priorities of your life.  How do you make sure the “big rocks” are being taken care of? Often decisions can cross over different arenas in your life. Is it more important to call your mother back or to finish that spreadsheet for your boss? Is it more important to go to your friend’s art show opening or go home for the weekend and see your niece’s recital?

How will you make these decisions? You must prioritize. You must decide what’s important to you and make sure your best time goes there. That’s why your calendar is your best friend. You can look out for an entire year (or at least a semester) and decide what is most important to you. Family? Write in some family visit time. Block out a couple weekends. Friends? Significant other? Travel? If you don’t schedule your time, someone else will.

You’re in control of your time. Don’t let other people prioritize it for you. Just remember that every yes is a no to something else.

8 ways to do more of the right stuff:

  1. Have a regular set planning time for your week. Maybe Sunday night. Maybe Monday morning before you go in to work or your first class. Also plan out each day in the morning. Ten minutes of planning saves an hour of time. It gives purpose and direction for your day.
  2. Be early, everywhere! This will show your coworkers and classmates that you take yourself seriously and you take their time seriously. And I mean even in the morning. If you get in the habit of getting up early, then you are able to discern what is important.
  3. Always have a book/Kindle/iPad, etc. with you everywhere you go to be able to get some reading in. Just last week I arrived ve minutes early to a lunch meeting. As I sat down, I got a text that my friend would be about twenty minutes late. That’s almost a half hour of unplanned time. So seize the time. Make it your own.
  4. If something takes less than 3 minutes, do it immediately. I like to build momentum with a couple small wins in the morning. Then tackle the most important thing of the day.
  5. Delegate when appropriate. If someone can do a job or task 80% as well as you, have them do it.
  6. Find out the “Minimum effective dose” that it takes to get something done. Don’t sacrifice on excellence, but making something 10 percent better usually requires 100 percent more effort. Make sure it’ll be worth it if you’re going to expend this extra effort.
  7. Have chunks of the day when you put your phone on airplane mode (of course, check with your boss and make sure this is okay). I promise these will be the most productive hours of your day. You need uninterrupted time every day.
  8. Put everything into your schedule. Are you a spiritual person? Put time in for prayer/meditation. Are you exercising? Put it in your schedule. What matters to you? Put the “big rocks” in first and guard them with your life. First things first. Then when someone asks you to do something, you can reply honestly “I’m sorry, but I already have a commitment.” The more organized you are, the more spontaneous you can be.

One last thought:

Entrepreneur Derek Sivers has a litmus test for when he’s presented with options or a request to speak or be involved in a new venture. If it’s not an emphatic, exciting “Hell yes!” then it’s a no. Now not all of us are at the stage of our career or life when we can make those types of decisions. Many of us are still in the “I’ll do anything I get asked to for the experience and the exposure” stage.  And that’s okay. But this can be an indicator if it falls within our priorities and passion.  Best wishes on finishing all you want to in 2018!

 

 

 

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3 Questions and 3 Time Management tips for 2018

 

Have you ever set out to accomplish an important task and before you know it, you’ve been watching YouTube videos of Michael Jackson impersonators doing magic tricks for four hours? Yeah, me neither. Asking for a friend.

I used to be the biggest procrastinator in the world. In my heart I still am. But through a lot of practice and learning and observing high output production peeps, I have started to get things done.

Take my friend who is in charge of a large business with hundreds of employees. Let’s call her Courtney. She always seems to have time to do the things she wanted to do. I asked her how she was able to achieve this. She told me there are 3 questions she asks herself at the beginning of every day:

1. What is the most important thing I have to do today?
2. What are the things that only I can do?
3. Can anyone else do anything on my to-do list 80 percent as well as I can? (If the answer to that question was yes, she delegated it to them.)

How do you manage your time? First of all, the language we use around time is misleading. Everyone has the same amount of time. The president of the U.S., babies, CEOs, entry-level interns, students, etc. all have the same 24 hours per day (168 hours per week). You can’t buy more, and you can’t wish for more (well, you can try, but it won’t work). We all need to make the most of what we’re given.

Think about the last time you said, “I just don’t have the time.” We all say it (or think it), but it’s not true. We do have the time. We’ve just chosen to use our time in other ways.

You have exactly enough time to do what you’re supposed to do today, if you will seize your time and take action. Don’t prioritize your schedule; schedule your priorities.

3 ways to accomplish more of the right things in 2018

1. Prioritize. Put the big rocks in first. 

Ask yourself: What’s the most important thing I should do today? Then go after it with everything you have. Right away.

–Start big tasks with the first step. Don’t put “Do project” on your to-do list; use “Start project.” Sometimes just a tweak as seemingly small as the language used can make a big difference.

–Prioritizing is like a muscle. When you first start, it’s awkward and feels uncomfortable and sore. But when you begin to figure out what’s important, you exercise it every day and decisions are more easily made because you know your priorities.

2. Cut back on the hours given to a project or task to increase overall efficiency.

Have you ever noticed that your work is like a liquid? It expands or contracts according to the time allotted for it?  Tim Ferriss has some great things to say about this in his book The 4-Hour Work Week. It’s worth a look if you’ve never read it.  Also here is Michael Hyatt discussing how to cut your To Do list in half.  

–Meetings should always have an end time. When they do, it forces the participants to get done what they need to get done in the time allotted.

3. Develop a headquarters.

This is somewhere that you write everything down. It’s your hub. Doesn’t matter if it’s on paper or in your phone or on stone tablets, but you need somewhere that you keep every task, project, appointment, note, idea, etc. I love using the notes section of my iPhone and Evernote for docs/note-taking. They are my digital brain.

Portions of this post are taken from the new book Adulting 101, set to release on April 1.  Andy Stanley said it’s a “must read” for anyone entering the real world.

Here’s wishing that 2018 is your best year yet!  And that you get done what you want to get done, and what you should get done.

Coming soon:  7 more ways to get more of the right stuff done

 

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Top 12 ways to save money over the holidays

 

Advent started on Sunday December 3rd.  It will run 21 days until Christmas Eve December 24th.  During this period of high spending, often with low love and low care, our finances can be stretched thin.  Here are some ways to save moolah.  Wishing you all kinds of JOY.

  1. Spend less than you make, even this month.
  2. PAY CASH FOR EVERYTHING.  Avoid credit card debt at all cost.
  3. Decide on a budget. Include a little extra to be able to call some “audibles.” Once you know how much you want to spend, stick to it!
  4. Make a list and check it twice, of every person you want to buy a present for.  Put yourself on there.  Just for fun and just in case.  And then divide up your budget between your recipients.
  5. In bigger families or big friend groups, utilize the Secret Santa program.  This is where you each draw a name and get one present for that person instead of 30 presents for cousins, nieces and nephews.
  6. Don’t go “shopping.” Think of yourself as a member of the SWAT team retail division. You go in, take care of business, and get out. These are tactical strikes. Don’t look through catalogs that you don’t need products from. Don’t browse in stores where you don’t need anything.
  7. Find some free things to do over Christmas vacation.  One of the best lists is HERE.  See #5–find cheaper traditions.
  8. The bigger the purchase, the more time you should spend looking for a deal. If you save $20 and it took you 20 minutes, you just paid yourself $60/hour, but if you saved $20 and it took you 4 hours, you just paid yourself $5/hour.
  9. Don’t be afraid to shop for birthday presents during this time–especially with the after-christmas sales. If you find something that’s an incredible deal, and is perfect for someone that you will definitely buy a birthday present for, buy it and keep it in a box. Anticipate and stay organized.
  10. Don’t start a tab. When you’re out for drinks with those old friends from high school and college, pay for all the drinks with cash when you order them unless you want to spend much more than you expect.
  11. Start early.  Block out some time to get those presents NOW, instead of being forced to buy something much more expensive on Christmas Eve.
  12. Don’t let it be only a time for buying.  Consider selling some of your old stuff.  And tip extravagantly.

Also let it be a time of giving.  Here’s a counterintuitive twist:  Pick somewhere or someone in your community, and give generously.  You reap what you sow.

Don’t forget the reason for this season.  It’s that God invaded our world.  A phenomenal miracle on all levels.  The God who spun out the universe put on human skin and moved into our neighborhood.  If you could look at the earth from far away, a sign would hang on it that says “God Came Here.”  Every gift you buy can be a celebration of this.  Give good gifts that are meaningful.  Blessings to you and your family as advent begins.  Wise men still seek Him.

 

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Raging Rivers at Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving.  It only comes once a year.  Sometimes I wish it would come more.  The family, friends, food, football, fun, lasagna, etc.  Yes I said lasagna.  We have turkey too but we have Italian roots and usually there’s a big pan of lasagna. With no ricotta cheese.  (because ricotta is just a space-filler).

In grad school, I had a professor who was recognized as the world’s authority on his teaching topic. He had a PhD from Yale and a PhD from Harvard, and his textbook was the gold standard. One of the students in my class asked, “Prof, how do you keep learning? Haven’t you arrived?”

He slowly walked closer to us and kept silent for what seemed like minutes. Then he replied, “That’s a good question, and a foundational one. As soon as you think you’ve arrived, it’s the beginning of the end. I always want my students drinking from a raging river and never a stagnant stream.”

I think gratitude is one of the keys to living life as a raging river.  Everyone can live life as a raging river.  It’s never too late to start.  Being grateful makes us hungry.  Hungry to give our life away.  Hungry to serve others.  Hungry to give credit where credit is due.  Hungry to appreciate life and live with a positive attitude.  Gratitude also makes us more happy.  Harvard says so.  Psychology today says so.  But this is the problem–my natural bend is not to be grateful.  My natural bend is to look at what I don’t have.  To remember where I’ve been wronged.  To remember the “near misses” of my life.  So what do we do?

Here are 7 practices that I’ve found helpful to cultivate a grateful heart:

  1. Start the day by writing down a list of 10 things you are grateful for.
  2. End the day by writing down a list of 5 things you were grateful for about that day.
  3. Write a thank you letter to someone who has made an impact on you. (and maybe even deliver it in person!)
  4. Thank people mentally.  (in your inner dialogue be grateful to people).  This really works!
  5. Unplug from social media and take some time to reflect on this past year.  The blessings you’ve been given, unexpected times with friends and family, what’s been meaningful, etc.
  6. Think about the tough, unhappy times of this past year.  You can even be thankful for these. Maybe it’s “how far you’ve come.”  Or how you’ve grown.  Or even that your current circumstances aren’t as bad as they could be.
  7. Meditate on how good God is.  Think about who He is and how much He loves you.  Nothing can change this.  He can’t love you any more and won’t love you any less.

What else do you do to help you be grateful?

The sky’s the limit with gratitude.  As things swirl around in a hectic, hot mess this week, will you take a little time and cultivate a grateful heart?

Happy Thanksgiving!  Here’s to becoming raging rivers.

 

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