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What’s More Productive: Multi-tasking or Procrastinating?

A recent Michael Gass post on his “Fuel Lines Blog” reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a prospective client.  After finally reaching him on the phone, Mr. Prospect apologized for being hard-to-reach.  He said that he was absolutely swamped and didn’t know how many tasks he has been juggling since he added marketing to his job description.

In today’s economy, it is not uncommon for those retained within an organization to be asked to do more, forthe same or even less money.  A few years ago, it would have been normal for an employee in this situation to ask for and receive a raise.  After all, it makes sense that increased responsibilities mean increased pay, right?  Today, many simply count themselves lucky to have a job and endeavor to do their best without rocking the boat by asking for more compensation.  Companies, quite naturally, won’t volunteer it.  And management congratulates itself on running an efficient organization. 

But, I wonder, how efficient can that organization be?  Despite all of our technical innovations (smartphones, email, cloud computing, tablets, etc.) the human mind can only do one thing at a time.  Science has all but proven this fact.  Combine this with the fact that there are only so many hours in the day, it is inarguable that everyone has a limit.  And when this limit is reached, things slip through the cracks.

Take a moment and think if you know someone who is now doing more in their job than ever before.  (I can think of at least seven business owners who are trying to be Chief Marketing Officer in addition to all of their other titles.)  Now ask yourself, “How many do you think would want to continue this way if they didn’t feel like they had to?” 

A good friend is being overwhelmed at their job with new job responsibilities.  Their manager feels that a good prioritization list, combined with a computer tablet would help them with their job.  But what if their weekly priority list entails responding to over 1,500 emails and over 200 tasks?  Perhaps for the first time in human history, we are unable to keep up with the world we have created.  And ultimately, the efficiency of an organization is what suffers.

I just realized that I’ve been putting off talking about Procrastination (the second part of this post).  We all know it…we all do it.  My daughter is the Princess of Procrastination when it comes to homework or cleaning her room.  But, in its defense, procrastinating can also lead to some Herculean feats of effort, late night inspirations and creative wizardry.  For business purposes, including marketing, procrastinating will eventually lead to a time where concerted effort begins.  And for this reason, I believe that procrastinating’s one benefit is that it causes you to focus on the task at hand, something that is antithetical to Multi-tasking.

As Gass’s blog quotes:  “Author of the book Distraction, Damon Young, says, “When we move from our job to an e-mail, it takes about a minute to recover our train of thought and then we get another e-mail, or an SMS, so our concentration is fractured. The result? We’re not really multi-tasking. We’re switching between tasks in an unfocused or clumsy way.”

If you are interested in working with The DH Group for your marketing, don’t put it off!  Please feel free to contact me.