Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Multi-tasking -- Who? Me?

I have a confession to make.

 In accordance with the advice of some of the most well-respected authorities on effectiveness and efficiency, I don't multi-task.

Neither do I single task particularly well.

Rather, I tend to ping from task to task like riccochet rabbit, hitting a lick here and a lick there as first one thing and then another captures or forces its way into the center of my attention.  Somehow, in the chaos of bouncing from task to task like a ping-pong ball in a clothes dryer, work gets done. Somehow, in the midst of the interuptions, thoughts get put on paper. Somehow, the analysis get completed and the report gets produced. Somehow.

At the end of the day, I feel like I've spent much of my time spinning my wheels, and I am exhausted.

I am capable of single tasking. If a task is compelling enough, I have been known to pursue it to the exclusion of all else. But such compelling tasks are few and far between, and all tasks, compelling or not, require dedicated time and effort to bring to completion.

Keeping current project and action lists and attempting to order my efforts by those lists helps, but not always.

Closing my door helps, but again not always.

Attempting to keep my desk clear of all except that on which I'm working also helps and I'm getting better at it.

Really.

I'm working on improving my focus, but focus is fragile. I can disconnect from the internet, but can't ignore the person who knocks on the door to ask "Did you get my email?" and then proceeds to spend the next fifteen minutes explaining something for which no immediate action is needed. By the time the subject is sufficiently dealt with, time has passed, focus is gone, and starting over is the only option.

Is there any solution short of mayhem?

Maybe I could seal my door with crime-scene tape. Maybe the answer is to pack up my laptop and files, occupy a table in a corner of the cafeteria or an unoccupied office, and bang out whatever is needed.

If anyone asks, I'm not available. I'm hiding out, single tasking, being productive.