MULTITASKING IS A myth. The brain is hard-wired to do one thing at a time. When we
think we’re multitasking we are actually
engaged in what neuroscientists call “task
switching”—switching rapidly between tasks.
Attempting to multitask lowers IQ, shrinks
the brain’s gray matter and lowers productivity by 40 percent, according to studies.
We are living distracted lives, resulting
in what I call “scattered brain syndrome.”
DEVORA ZACK: GETTING FOCUSED
CEO of Only Connect Consulting
Zack) is an author,
speaker, consultant and coach.
Allow me to introduce singletasking.
Singletasking means developing a heightened focus and accomplishing more by living
fully in the present. You can improve your relationships and your quality of life by reclaiming
control and remembering what matters.
You can do one thing well or two things
poorly. Here are some techniques to get
Sync your thoughts and actions. Make
a conscious effort to align your mind and body:
Work on focusing your thoughts on the person
or task in front of you.
Create systems. Build “fences” around
potential distractions before they occur. Prior
to a phone call, turn off your auditory pings
and visual pop-ups; it is nearly impossible
to ignore them once they occur.
Enjoy lunch. A recent Harvard study
found that those who attempt to work
through lunch accomplish less work overall.
Cluster-task. Choose an activity you
do frequently, such as checking emails, and
cluster that task into two or three designated
segments throughout the day rather than
letting it overrun your other obligations.
Time-shift. Although some tasks
require intensity and hard work, set aside
time each day to unwind. The University of
London found that even 15 minutes a day
of relaxing increases overall productivity by
Be present. When enjoying a meal for
business or pleasure, invite all parties to turn
off their phones and put them in a pile. The
first one to touch a phone pays for everyone.
Singletasking means committing to your
choices. You can address your next task
after working on the existing one. You don’t
have to complete every task all at once just
for a designed timeframe. Try applying these
techniques to your work, relationships and
hobbies. Experience the change yourself.
Get out there and enjoy each day, one
sunbeam at a time. C
DO YOU WORRY about you or
futurist, and Costco
member Barbara Mistick, president of
Wilson College in Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania, suggest that employers
“need to help people get the tools they
need to achieve their career goals.”
They offer the following tips to help
keep all minds engaged.
Adopt a growth mindset. Don’t settle
for the idea that our skills are fixed.
True potential is unknowable because it
is impossible to foresee what can be
accomplished with years of passion, toil
and training. Hire and promote the people
who are improving year over year.
Give feedback to help others grow.
Millennials—people under the age of 35—
want feedback 50 percent more often than
non-millennials. And many say the relationship with their manager is what keeps
them engaged at work. Take the time to
give the feedback necessary to create a
Are you ready for the future?
IN JUNE, the Small Business Administration
(SBA; sba.gov) unveiled a new communications service that allows deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to communicate with the
agency directly in American Sign Language
(ASL), rather than through typed text or
other third-party intermediary services. The
service is part of the SBA’s continued efforts
to make services and programs more accessible to all communities.
SBA administrator Maria Contreras-
Sweet says the new ser-
vice will be a helpful
business tool and
can aid in job
are deaf or hard of
hearing already own
their own business,
only 48 percent of the deaf
community is currently employed, she says.
The ASL video customer support line’s
contact representative can be reached via
videophone between 8 a.m. and 4: 30 p.m.
Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, at
SBA help for the
In our digital editions
Click here to watch Devora Zack
talk about singletasking. (See
page 12 for details.)
your sell-by date.
Are you continuing to
learn and stay abreast of
your field? Your company
may be doing well, but
what about the bigger
picture of the economy
and your industry? Seek out a
conference or industry event that can
help you find out what innovations
are emerging in the field.
Stay educated. Learning should
never be over if you plan on competing
in the future. Consider sponsoring lunch-and-learn TED talk sessions or invite local
college professors in to give short talks.
Get five to thrive. Find five people
who inspire you and make you a better
person. A Gallup poll says employees
who have a best friend at work are the
most engaged. Help facilitate friendships
with social outings, such as summer
picnics and holiday parties, to encourage
loyalty to each other and the company.
For more information, go to stretch