You know how sometimes you discover something that you need to improve on in your life, you work hard at getting better at “it”, and you sort of impress yourself with how successful you ended up being?
Do you also know how sometimes you discover something that you need to improve on in your life, you are determined to get better at “it”, and you are completely shocked at the fact that you are somehow getting dramatically worse despite all of your focused attention at improving?
Well, that’s 100% me when I read one of Ben’s recent posts about multitasking.
I would venture to guess that I’m not the only one out there that’s spent the majority of her adult life trying to perfect the art of multitasking. Haven’t we always been led to believe that the more things you can do at once will yield the greatest rates of production?
Maybe I misunderstood that lesson in “adult school” (which I actually do still believe we could all benefit from if the right person led the charge on this), but my whole “more is more” motto doesn’t seem to be working.
Ben’s post was driven by the following story:
“A farmer set out one morning to feed his cow. On the way to the barn, he noticed that he had forgotten to put his ax away the night before. He picked up the ax and headed for the tool shed, but on the way he noticed that web worms had gotten into the peach tree. He dropped the ax and went to get paper to burn out the worms.
As he picked up the paper, he remembered an important sale in town. So, he went to his truck. When he opened the garage, he noticed that one of the hinges was loose, so he headed back to the house to get his hammer. On the way to the house, he heard the cow moo so he headed to the barn to feed the cow.”
I’ll be honest with you, my initial reaction to this story was, “Damn, that farmer got so much done!” Like, in a,”Great job, kiddo!” sort of way. Needless to say, Ben…who was sitting right next to me…was nothing short of completely horrified.
Obviously…obviously now, not so obvious to me then…the farmer’s goal that day morning was to feed his cow. His goal was not to put his ax away (which he never actually did), burn some worms (which he never actually did), buy something in town (which he never actually did), or fix a loose hinge (which he never actually did). After a whole lot of distractions and getting less important things barely half done, he did end up back on track and headed to feed the cow. But, he wasted a ton of time doing it because he lost site of the one thing he should’ve been prioritizing.
When we try to do too many things, we do nothing well.
That’s not news to any of us.
We think we’re getting so much done, but we’re actually not getting anything done at all.
Perfect example of how I am the worst offender of this: I sat down to write my blog post. I went to edit and pull together my photos from that day and saw a ceramic plate in one of the pictures that an old family friend had hand thrown for Jonah when he was born. I wanted to reconnect with her, so I hopped over to Facebook to try and find her…after 25 years of not seeing her. I couldn’t find her right away, so I hopped over to Google to see if my FBI skills could find her somewhere in the world. So, I found out way more information about her than I’m willing to admit to, so I reached out to another old friend to blah blah blah. You get the direction I’m headed in here.
Forty five minutes later, I’ve now run out of time to write my blog, I never actually contacted the original old friend, and now I’ve either got to skip posting that day or force the kids to entertain themselves while I write a half-assed piece because now I’m multitasking even more by writing while trying to supervise two young children who want to suffocate one another after a long day at school.
Instead: Prioritize – Focus – Execute – Complete Fully – Repeat.
This is gonna’ take me a while to get good at. Haha