It seems like such a simple thing, really. Start a task. Stick with that task until it’s done. Move on to the next task.
So why is it so hard to do?
At no time in the history of the American office worker have their been more extraordinary tools available to improve worker productivity and efficiency. And yet never have we had more difficulty staying on task.
Doing more than one thing at once is pretty much expected these days. You’re supposed to be able to focus on a spreadsheet you have open in one window, a document in another and your email queue in yet another. For some of us, tending simultaneously to multiple social media accounts (thank goodness for multiple browsers!) is also another routine part of the day’s work.
We’re made to feel that we’re slacking, somehow, if we aren’t good at managing it all at once. Even if the very effort to do so makes us cranky and confused.
I saved the link to this NPR piece when it first came out more than two years ago. I pull it out and listen sometimes when I need a reminder that it’s not always a good idea to allow my train of thought to be yanked from one direction to another. There’s a reason it doesn’t really work. We’re simply not wired that way.