Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Upgrade Doesn’t Always Mean Advantage

Technology is a modern paradox. As it advances, it simplifies. As it simplifies, it complicates. There’s an “app” for everything but that doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing. Tech culture means more options but it also means more layers and that means more time. There are few excuses with technology. You can always be on call and on top of any issue. As the scope of what can be done becomes more and more limitless, so does the expectation of what we can accomplish.

In many ways technology has created a do-it-yourself, everyone can-be-an-expert at almost anything world. Just consider all of the things you can do with digital pictures. You can post them, edit them, rate them, tag them, print them, send them, write on them, put them in a slide show, burn a disc, make a movie, add music and customize virtually any product with them. So why is it that most photos sit in a big hard drive mess?!

It shouldn’t be that way because with technology today, you can meticulously manage your life. There is a chart, graph or file to organize just about anything. No pressure. It’s so easy that it should take no time at all which is exactly what most people have: no time at all. What’s crazy is that we really start to believe that we do have the time to do everything simply because everything is at our fingertips. The chart may be there in an instant but we forget that the time it takes to enter the information can be endless. It’s a cultural distortion that creates unrealistic expectations and undue pressure for everyone. Enter multitasking: the be all way to do it all.

The real truth about multitasking is that it’s a skill that is widely misunderstood. A skilled multitasker can manage more than one task at a time by successfully shifting attention back and forth so adeptly that focus is never compromised by distraction. They can tune in and tune out. Most people, however, split instead of shift. When they tune into one thing, they find it difficult to tune out the distraction of the other. As a result, tasks are disadvantaged and take even more time to complete.

Quantity is not quality so, if you fall in the latter category of multitasker then you need to decide which is more important. Sometimes getting more done without an eye for perfection is the right way to go. Sometimes quality counts and it is in your best interest to give full focus to one thing at a time. The challenge becomes knowing the difference and giving yourself the flexibility to prioritize between the two. Most of us, especially over-achievers, inherently set the bar high and put the expectation on ourselves to produce quantity and quality 100% of the time. When you add this to a high task volume and overlap it with the need for speed, you have a recipe for mental and physical burn out. Everyone needs to RELAX. SET. GO.

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