It seems pretty unlikely — although mobile phone usage (especially texting) while driving is indeed a known killer — but there are some remarkable neuroscience studies that demonstrate precisely why multitasking is really quite a bad thing.
In a nutshell, the very act of multitasking creates its own neurological ‘buzz’ that makes it feel rewarding and productive, whereas in reality it can be opposite. But don’t take my word for it, and don’t rely on your own gut reaction or stories from friends. Read what neuorscientist Daniel J. Levitin has to say:
Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation.
Even better, look at Levitin’s full article in the Guardian. We thought this would be of interest to our readers because meeting scheduling and management is likely to be one of just dozens of tasks you are engaged in during a busy workday, and you might want to stop and think about marshalling your attention in a focused manner for just one thing.
I had the great good fortune to work at the headquarters of Apple Inc. in Cupertino, California, in the early 1990’s, as part of Apple’s Advanced Technology Group. The period when I was there happened to coincide with the period during which Steve Jobs had been ousted from his own company, before his game-changing return in 1997. Even in his absence, however, it was obvious that his ‘fingerprints’, ‘vibe’ and ‘ethos’ were everywhere, but the ‘vibe’ was slipping and the ship was floundering in his absence. Jobs’ style and influence are well-documented and easy to find, so I’m adding this little note just to point out a handy article I came across recently that highlights the ‘Steve Jobs approach’ to efficient meetings, which will be of interest to many Meetomatic users and more generally to our blog readers.
The article is by Drake Baer of Business Insider UK, who writes that
American businesses lose an estimated $37 billion a year due to meeting mistakes.
Steve Jobs made sure that Apple wasn’t one of those companies.
Jobs’ techniques involved keeping meetings small, making sure that there was a specific named person driving each agenda item, and refusing to let people use PowerPoint as a veil to bluff their way through poorly-thought-out ideas.
Read Drake Baer’s article to see these points expanded and to get a feel for the ‘Steve Jobs approach’, via the following link: 3 Ways Steve Jobs Made Meetings Insanely Productive — And Often Terrifying
In a 2013 article in the McKinsey Quarterly, entitled ‘Making time management the organization’s priority‘, authors Frankki Bevins and Aaron De Smet surveyed 1500 executive leaders around the globe, and found that only 9% considered themselves ‘very satisfied’ with their time management.
Of those who deemed themselves effective time managers, 85 percent reported that they received strong support in scheduling and allocating time. Only 7 percent of ineffective time allocators said the same.
This is a remarkable insight – particularly when you consider how much time is wasted company-wide in the scheduling of meetings (we’ll address this is an subsequent posting). This may seem obvious to you, but managers need to get a grip!
Are you an effective time manager? If so, what’s your technique? If not, what are you wasting time on?