I can remember being in a job interview and the question is asked…
“What do you consider to be your strengths?”
At the time, I had always prided myself in a particular strength, one that I always felt had a lot of value in an organization, and made me more efficient in my work. My response on the job interview that day:
I am great at multi-tasking.
When I look back on that job interview, and the response I provided, I realize that I never considered what multi-tasking really means. I know that, on the surface, it means I can do many things at one time. But today I find myself asking: Is multi-tasking really a strength? When I dig deeper, what it really means is I work on many things at the same time therefore; I do not give any one task my full and undivided attention. When did this become a desirable attribute? Would I value what I just described in an employee? Heck no!
Is multi-tasking always a strength?
Let’s take a situation I witnessed this morning… I was driving into work and I saw multi-tasking in today’s world at its best. A young driver was approaching a four way stop while on her cell phone and rolled right out into the intersection as I was making my left turn. I saw her and no one was hurt and most went through the intersection completely oblivious. However, this could have played out so differently if I too were multi-tasking while driving. I could have collided with this young driver who no doubt was raised by two multi-tasking parents that taught her the value of getting as much done at once by modeling it.
It had me thinking about the role model I have been for my own daughter who is 16 and driving. I am sure I have modeled multi-tasking and may have even demanded the same from her at times, “You can put your toys away while you watch your TV show” I can hear myself saying to a toddler giving me grief over the task. And we wonder why our children’s attention span is so short these days.
So I begin to work on a new strength for myself: Focus.
“Starve your distractions, feed your focus.” – Unknown
Focus and giving full attention to the tasks I face – driving a car, reading an email, having a conversation, cooking dinner, listening to my kids talk about their day… and so on, you get the point. Stop living in the blur that was multi-tasking and view things more clearly with undivided attention. This will be a challenge, but will be worth the effort to be a better role model to my kids and a more productive team member at work.