Felling Trees, One Forest At A Time

By | June 24, 2009

Do you ever feel like you are cutting down a forest of trees by walking up, taking a swing, walking to the next tree, taking a swing, and repeating as necessary? It will take a long time before you get the satisfaction of felling that first tree. Everyone I speak to these days, including myself, seems to have this feeling. Too many trees, not enough time to focus on a single tree, lots of waste cycling between each tree, unable to get into a focused rhythm.
We’re responding to the do more with less mantra (my thoughts on that here) by running around from task to task, from project to project, from commitment to commitment. Is that how you feel? Is your stress level on the increase? Do you routinely have a sense of accomplishment?
We keep fooling ourselves with the myth of multitasking and believe that switching from task to task is productive. I don’t think we really believe that to be true but we sure act like it. There have been many examples of the productivity issues with multitasking including:
We greatly accelerate our completion rate if we will just slow down and focus on the task at hand. Determine the most important task, stay focused, enter the “zone”, and knock it off the list. Sure, other tasks remain undone, for the moment. Celebrate your accomplishment and get ready for the next one. It is true that we don’t always have the luxury of maintaining focus on one task or project but we do have the ability to prioritize and keep our focus on those with the greatest impact.
Constantly moving from tree to tree provides little or no incremental value. Stop walking around wildly swinging your axe in the forest. Focus on one tree and put it on the ground.
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