A number of years ago, I found myself at what I hope was the pinnacle of my multitasking phase. I was sitting at my desk, with one telephone handset in my right hand, another sitting in my lap, and my cell phone on the desk in front of me.
I was rotating from phone to phone trying to put out fires. And if you’re wondering why I just didn’t conference in my callers, it would be because as ridiculous as it sounds, I was trying to put out 3 unrelated fires at once, with the occasional employee poking their head in to ask what would hopefully be a simple question for which I could respond with one sentence, while taking a quick breath.
Was I truly accomplishing more? Was I increasing my billable hours? Was I being a good mentor? The answer is a big fat resounding NO!
Later that afternoon with the roar of the busy-ness still pounding through my head, I asked myself, “What on earth are you doing?”.
I’d spent about an hour and a half juggling the phone calls, giving instructions to one person and while waiting to hear the results, moving on to the next, and so on and so on. But what did I bill each client? Well as they didn’t have my full attention, they were each billed for about a quarter of an hour. Three quarters of an hour for an hour and a half of my time. Duh! Were they happy? Hmm, I’m not sure, no one complained, but… Yes, I did get their issues resolved. In what I thought at the time was the most expedient manner, but at what price?
I do believe that some people are more capable of multitasking than others, though I am NOT recommending it. I was raised to be a multi-tasker.
One of my mother’s favorite movies is Mildred Pierce. We learned early on to never go empty handed. If we were going downstairs to play and there was anything that needed to be brought downstairs, we were expected to bring it down with us. If we didn’t we were chided about our inability to do more than two things at once.
With all that said, it is understandable that it takes effort for me NOT to multi-task sometimes, but I’m learning. (overcoming that old blueprint) Do I want to do a good job, an adequate job, or do I want to focus with all my resources, give 110% and do the best that I can do? The answer of course is the latter. Most of all, I realize that in any human relations, it is best NOT to multitask.
My Uncle Tom was an amazing man who gave his full attention to those around him. In doing so, he made you feel special. His focus was solely on the person he was speaking with. He paid attention and he knew how to listen, to really listen. He was a caring man, and demonstrated it in his interactions. So maybe it is no wonder that 36 since years since his passing, I still remember how special he always made me feel.
I’d gladly give up all my email, twitter, tv and Facebook time to have the ability to have the same effect.