People who want to accomplish more (who doesn’t?) would be well-served to remember one thing above all others – do less!  AT&T’s humorous commercial notwithstanding, vast expanses of human potential are turned into veritable wastelands because people are bad at pruning low-yield efforts from their ‘to do’ lists.

two things

Without relentless focus, you end up with:

  1. Individuals trying to multitask (and failing) who are part of
  2. An organization whose workload is growing without bounds trying to interact with
  3. A customer whose capacity to absorb change is limited by their own priorities (which, surprise, may not be the same as yours) 

Here are some articles that illustrate why…

  • Brandon Keim suggests that to “do two or more things simultaneously… you’ll do none at full capacity.”  He writes that “multitaskers” have “diminished powers of mental organization and extra difficulty switching between tasks.”
  • Rosabeth Moss Kanter mentions mission creep as a self-defeating behavior which can ruin a company.  “Adding new items without subtracting old ones is how… workloads grow out of control,” she writes.
  • Michael Schrage’s article says the “issue is less about how fast CEOs are willing to move than how quickly their most reliable customers are prepared to change.”
  • Matthew E. May wrote about a similar conclusion he has drawn with respect to innovation.  Specifically, “memorable and meaningful experience hinges on user engagement, which is best achieved through a subtractive approach.”  In another article, he writes about the importance of distinguishing between “what to follow versus what to ignore, what to leave in versus what to leave out, and what to do versus what not to do.”

Which brings us back to the beginning.  If you tried to read this article at work, while listening to a conference call, simultaneously checking email, or updating your Facebook status, how much did you truly accomplish?  The pivot point is to slow down and focus; it’ll help put excellence within your grasp.  Please take a moment to share it with others trying to achieve their full potential.

Still in denial?  Check out this ‘sad but true’ visual from HBR.


Uni-tasking Your Way to Excellence
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4 thoughts on “Uni-tasking Your Way to Excellence

  • 26 April 2013 at 09:10

    Excellent points, Andrew, and thanks for sharing all of the resources in your blog. I tried to check out the link to the HBR visual, but received an error message on the HBR page. Has it moved to another page or is it possible it has been removed?

    • 26 April 2013 at 09:22

      Jeff, thanks for checking in. I just double-checked the link and it seems to be working. Not sure why you encountered error. The content is marked as “limited access” so you may need to create an account. Otherwise, believe it is free.

      • 26 April 2013 at 09:31

        Thanks, Andrew. Second time was the charm. And, worth the attempt. Worker #1 definitely felt like the unreachable utopia, but you can clearly identify with Worker #2 not getting much done.

        • 26 April 2013 at 09:45

          Glad you stuck with it/me. Everytime that IM window blinks or the phone rings there’s a good chance productivity is impaired.


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