Bigger. Faster. Dumber.

Have you found yourself asking how we ever got into the economic mess we’re in?

I think one reason is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be seduced by the twin sirens of greed and speed.

Because we want more (or maybe because our bosses or shareholders want more), we assume we have to do more, so we develop a fanatic devotion to multi-tasking as a way to get more done in less time. But it doesn’t work, does it?

Multi-tasking doesn’t make you perform better at all. Just the opposite. You can’t really hear what’s going on in the meeting while you’re checking messages on your Blackberry. And no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that you can, you’re wrong. Either the meeting or the message is going to suffer. You know it’s true. And so does just about every cognitive researcher who’s studied the matter.

Multi-tasking is the assassin of clear thinking. With each additional parallel task, your thinking becomes less focused, your memory less reliable.

The answer? Take it easy. Tackle one job at a time, and give it your full attention. Real value comes from thinking better, not faster.

Try it. I guarantee you’ll think better. Your results may even astonish you. You’ll make fewer errors, have less rework, come up with better ideas — and probably finish sooner.

You have to slow down to speed up.

“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.”
– ROLLO MAY (1909-1994)

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