I’ve been reading The ONE Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s got a lot of good information, much of which I’ve read elsewhere.
Let’s face it, once you start reading those sorts of productivity and success books, you get a lot of the same advice from different people. That probably means it’s good advice.
One practice it warns against (one I know I’m guilty of) is multitasking. The book points out that multitasking really just means dividing attention unequally between two things and, more often than not, doing them both poorly.
It presents evidence that we can really only pay attention to one thing and the more we try to accomplish at once, the less productive (and more exhausted) we become.
Unlike computers, our minds are not great at quickly switching between multiple tasks.
Sure, we can walk and talk, but that’s because walking typically requires little brain power. Try walking on a tightrope and all of a sudden your jabbering goes away. This is what makes phones and driving a potentially dangerous combination (a little PSA for ya).
As for me, I often divide up my creative attention, and thus my creativity suffers. Writing a book and checking emails at the same time (or designing a game while surfing the web) turn out to be counter-productive. Instead, I should set aside specific blocks of time for each task.
But I have gotten better at doing this (as well as recognizing when I fail). There have been those long stretches of time where I really do sit down and write without interruption. And I feel much better for it.
How about you, have you noticed that your creative output suffers when you try to share your time? More importantly, have you done anything about it?
I leave you with two quotes (I’ll let you guess which of them comes from The ONE Thing).
To do two things at once is to do neither.
Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.