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Multi Tasking Research Can’t Be Wrong

Multi tasking is one of those skills that people brag about having. But is it effective?

The Research

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multi tasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

Multi tasking can have negative effects on the brain. Researchers at the University of Sussex in England compared brain scans of the time people spent multi tasking with multiple devices such as texting while watching TV. The results showed that high multi taskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control. Although more research needs to be conducted on the long-term damage we know for a fact that Multi tasking has an effect on the brain

The research done at Stamford has shown that when you think you are multi tasking, you’re actually not. We may have this notion that our brain is working hard at every task that you are trying to accomplish when you are Multi tasking, but you’re actually dividing up your brain power and reducing the focus on any one thing which ends up making you less effective when Multi tasking. In the brain, when you start another task while you are already working on one you are diverting your attention that is currently on one side of the brain to the other. In addition to taking away time from your activity, you are also taking up valuable resources and diverting them away from one task to another. It acts as a distraction and reducing individual concentration. The result of Multi-taking is your brain is slower to access your brain power.

There Are Many Negatives To Multi Tasking

Distractions:

Checking email in the middle of a task is an example of multi tasking. It is a self-inflicted distraction that comes from the impulse, rather the addiction to check email while we are in the middle of another task. Studies show that more than 30% of people check their phones 150 times a day. You can’t argue that is necessary. It is an impulsive addiction. Because we are so easily distracted by both outside and inside forces, Multi tasking has risen as a larger problem in the workplace as well as at home.

This is a topic that has definitely drawn a lot of attention when it comes to researching distracted driving. When you are on the phone talking or texting while driving, you are no longer focusing solely on driving rather you have diverted your attention from the road to your phone. That is why accidents happen. As a matter of fact, 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. That is bad.

Mistakes:

There are some other negatives and negative effects to Multi tasking. You are going to be more likely to make mistakes when Multi tasking than you would if you were just working on one thing at a time. Since you are not solely focused on one thing, your attention is divided, your reaction time is slower and you are going to be more likely to make mistakes. If you are doing two basic tasks at once, this may not be a problem but if both tasks require a lot of critical thinking you are going to make errors.

Stress:

Lastly, Multi tasking may stress you out. You may think that by Multi tasking you are getting your job done quicker or getting more done but it is actually hampering you from getting more done and not having to repeat your work due to errors, omissions or delays in the long run. The mistakes made from Multi tasking causes stress.

Having to keep multiple balls in the air at the same time creates a compulsive behavior to do more. It is because dopamine is being released in your brain when you complete something. When you think you are completing something, you get another hit of dopamine, making you want to take more on, only to suffer later from the mistakes and extra work it creates. Our brain is actually tricking us to think it is good for us. You need to have the discipline and foresight to set up rules for yourself to notice and avoid this compulsive, multi-taking behaviors.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid Multi Tasking

Use a timer:

By using a timer you are dedicating that segment of time to only one task and when the timer goes off you can move to another. The timer helps you stay concentrated and adds a little competitive pressure to get it done in the time allotted.

Schedule your priorities:

Make sure you schedule important tasks in your calendar. As this will show up as an appointment you can deliver dedicated time to this task and leave the multi tasking to other less important tasks. If you don’t schedule them, they won’t happen because other urgencies will show up to fill the time you have.

Work in Airplane mode

By putting your phone in airplane mode you are free to work without distraction form texts or incoming emails or any other notifications coming from your social apps. Block out distractions and gain greater focus. You know this, so why aren’t you doing it. Leave t in the other room, make someone hold it for you-just do it!

Listen to music

Listening to certain types of music can help increase your focus. Allow a part of your mind that gets distracted be occupied with listening to music and enjoy the focus it creates.

Increase awareness

Tracking your distractions and patterns and impulses to multi-task will help you to identify ways to stop it. You cant change what you are not aware of.

So now what is your answer- is it effective to multi-task? Next time, instead of multi tasking do your tasks individually. This will increase your productivity and minimize your errors, making your life a lot easier and happier.

10 Must Read Books On Leadership

There are dozens and dozens of books cited by CEOs, corporate managers, and employees on what gets them motivated to lead the day. It can come in a novel, a self-help book, or a non-fiction story that may not even be business related, yet be adaptable to the businesses. Here is a short list of books about leadership that should be read by all.

Books On Leadership

  1. The Art Of War by Sun Tzu – This book, written in China, is 2000 years old. Why do we still read it? It may be about the military and approach war in Asia, but it can be easily applied to business strategy, strategies, and achievements. It will help you find solutions to disruptions in different areas of your life.
  2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell – The business veteran gives real stories and practical application around the 21 laws of success and failures as a business leader. Mixing in scenes of politics, sports, religion, and war, Maxwell gives his own constitution to leadership. It is a must-read for all leaders.
  3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek – Business is not just about the products and services. They are about the purpose and connections those products create. Great brands understand this concept and lead from the heart rather than the head. Start with why and you will touch the hearts of employees and clients alike and create a strong community that supports and promotes the business.
  4. Drive by Daniel H. Pink – What you thought you knew about motivation will be challenged in this book. Daniel Pink brings us into the world of psychology where autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the real drivers to drive managers and employees to reach beyond their goals. If you want to be a better leader, you need to know what motivates others and what your role as a leader is in getting people motivated.
  5. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham &Curt Coffman – This book is a major influence on management philosophy. The two authors, both of them Gallup analysts, write that the leading factors to a successful organization involve zeroing in on strengths and giving each employee the right feel to fit in perfectly. Stories and examples come from a study of over 80,000 managers and what they do differently.
  6. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey – This is a classic has been inspiring people for over 25 years. Shift your thinking around leadership, time management, and productivity. It is to be practiced in everyday life. Read this book one a year and condition these habits. Attaining success is about building character and the habits you practice will define you.
  7. Built To Last by James C. Collins & Jerry I. Porras – The authors did 6 years of research asking the question “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?” The result was a list of companies they defined as visionaries (Disney, Ford, Sony). They write those companies’ characteristics that led to massive success, sustainability, and leadership in each business sector.
  8. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink& Leif Babin – Using the lives of two Navy SEALs and their challenges through a mission gone wrong. The book details how they dug out of a hole and lead the way to survive and advance. It is all about leading in times of trouble at any given minute – which is what business leadership is about: taking a hold of a major problem and guiding them out of trouble.
  9. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin – This might not be a common choice on your leadership reading list but a great way to learn about great leadership is to study great leaders. Lincoln was a strong leader and this book dives into the start of President Lincoln’s presidency and how he brought in his critics within the Republican Party into his cabinet. Lincoln is widely considered the greatest President in American history and this book provides insight how he became a full-fledged leader in the darkest years of the country at all costs.
  10. The New One Minute Manager by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth H. Blanchard – This is an updated version of the classic “One Minute Manager”. The classic book focused on the principle of mentoring and coaching to be a good manager and teach others to manage. This updated parable demonstrates the same principles in today’s business environment. Focusing on the right motivators and providing direct feedback creates strong teams.

These are all books that strike at the source of what it means to be a leader. They come from different perspectives and give readers an unlikely view of what the world – or business – can be. These books are great for business book clubs, management training programs, executive training, leadership training and any venue designed to develop leaders personally and professionally.

How Productive Efficiency Applies to Businesses

When a business is trying to make a profit, many factors go into it. The cost of producing goods is one of the most important factors because if the cost of production is higher than what the goods are worth, there is no way to profit from them and the company will go out of business. While productive efficiency is a well-known economic term, it also applies to individual businesses.

productive efficiency

What is Productive Efficiency?

Productive efficiency refers to the production of goods in the economy. At some point, the economy may not be able to produce more of one product without affecting the production levels of another product.

Productive efficiency is used to measure if a business is producing the maximum amount of a product at the lowest possible cost. To make a profit, a business needs to use its resources efficiently so when they sell their goods they make money from them. It is important to control costs like labor, materials, energy, and transportation.

Impact on Quality

Sometimes when businesses try to produce their goods at the lowest possible cost, it can affect the quality of their products. By cutting costs to their lowest point, a business may need to buy cheaper materials or cut expenses, such as labor costs, which can result in sacrificing the quality of products.

It can also mean cutting the quality of service. If your business is service-oriented, such as a restaurant or hotel, then cutting costs can have a direct effect on customer service, therefore customer satisfaction. If you’re reducing expenses by cutting labor costs, then having fewer employees can mean customers don’t get the services they want or the quality of service they are accustomed to having.

When this happens, the reputation of your business can be negatively affected. Research shows that 70% of customers who leave a business for one of their competitors have no problem with their products, but with their customer care. In addition, 86% of customers will pay more for better customer service.

Responsible Cost Cutting

Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce expenses without sacrificing the quality of your products or the reputation of your business. While the productive efficiency definition doesn’t mention how producing goods for the lowest cost impacts quality, businesses are aware of its effects. These cost-cutting measures can help reduce expenses without producing low-quality goods.

Review Expenses

By reviewing your company’s expenses like the cost of supplies, cleaning chemicals, linens, or insurance, you may find ways to cut costs. If you discover your business is buying supplies too often, then you can initiate inventory control measures.

For instance, managers of a restaurant can set out the number of kitchen towels to be used during a shift and keep the main supply locked in a cabinet to prevent waste. Also, if the review of the company’s expenses reveals it is spending money on unnecessary services, like certain types of insurance, then you can cancel those policies.

Negotiate with Vendors

By auditing the costs of materials, supplies, and services, you may be able to find ways to cut costs by negotiating with the vendors supplying those items. If you’ve been loyal to a vendor for several years, then they may be willing to give you a loyalty discount on the items you buy from them. If not, consider finding suppliers who are willing to offer what you need at a better price.

Replace Equipment

If old equipment keeps breaking down, then your costs can increase because you need to pay for repairs each time it breaks, and it may slow down productivity. Replacing equipment will prevent frequent repairs, and it may provide more cost-effective ways to produce your goods.

Provide Employee Training

By making sure your employees have the essential skills your business needs, they can work more efficiently and help cut costs. Even though you may need to implement training programs, which costs money, it can reduce mistakes, increase productivity, and produce better quality work.

These measures for cutting costs can help maintain the quality your customers are acquainted with, whether it’s the customer service they receive or the products they’re buying from your business. Productive efficiency is achieved when your company is producing the maximum amount of goods for the minimal cost, and these measures can help accomplish productive efficiency.

Making a Profit

Ideally, a company will make a profit when it can sell its goods for more than their production costs. So, if it costs $3 to make a widget, but it is sold for $5, then the company makes a profit of $2. Another way to determine a profit is through distribution. If the cost of producing an extra unit of a product is the same at its marginal cost, then allocative efficiency has been achieved.

An additional unit of a good may also produce a marginal benefit, but as more units are produced, their benefit declines. The marginal benefit and marginal cost are closely related because as the cost exceeds the benefit, then the cost of producing the last unit goes up. If the cost goes up, then the ability to make a profit decreases.

Finding the Right Balance

It is important to find the right balance when trying to achieve productive efficiency. Otherwise, it can affect other areas of your business. Production efficiency may be reached when it isn’t possible to make further improvements in the production of one good without harming the production of another good.

For example, if you own a beverage company, then your main resource is water. If your company is bottling more water than cola, yet you make more money on cola sales, then you’re adversely affecting your cola production.

It can be difficult for a business to find the right balance between the costs of goods and the cost of production, but to stay profitable, it is imperative that businesses do so. However, if you can achieve the right balance, then your business will be profitable.

Image Source: Adobe Stock

Five Reasons Why Your Company Should Start A Book Club

A book club in a big company can be a great way to engage, connect, and deepen trust within your team or across departments. Having a book club is a chance to create intelligent and purposeful interactions, create new partnerships, share opinions, and improve overall communication by everyone involved. The book may be a topic to challenge, to connect, or to engage the group and it may or may not be one of choice. A book club forces members to reflect and interact in a different way. Learning another person’s background and opinions and allow them to share their point of view, open to different perspectives, and to trust and care for co-workers in a new way. It gives each person to be expressive with no hierarchy or agenda.

Here are five reasons to why your company should start a book club.

1. Connect Co-Workers

You know the views and opinions of your best friends, but rarely do you get the opportunity to have more intimate and authentic discussions like this with your co-workers. Perhaps, those on different floors have only shared the elevator or passed in walking through a floor other than their own. Yet there are interactions across departments in various forms. Gaining valuable perspectives from the diverse team of people you work with will create a greater connection to those people, greater respect, increase the level of trust and create a higher level of sensitivity while working with one another. Co-workers that like one another, work more effectively and efficiently together.

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success , people who live the longest result not from healthy living but from a sense of belonging. He studied a town in Roseto, Pa, a town entirely made up of citizens who came from the village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy. The study showed that the people had a feeling of trust and security among Rosetans because the people of the town always had someone they knew and who knew them to turn to for support. They concluded that the extraordinary health of this unique population could only be explained in terms of “extended family” and “community.”

Greater connection creates a strong community.

2. Create a sense of belonging

Book clubs are inclusive, allowing each member to participate and share their views. This creates a greater sense of belonging to the group. A sense of belonging is a basic need that builds confidence, trust, and connection.

In addition, Kelly McGonigal the author of “The Upside of Stress”, reveals a study that was done with college students. Freshman drop-out rates are above 50%. A study was done to show the impact on the drop-out rate as a result of making students feel a greater sense of belonging through support, connection, and engagement. The study group resulted in a reduction of that drop-out rate by more than 50%.

People who feel like they belong and they matter to the organization, are more engaged and take a higher level of ownership in their work and the results they are creating. They develop a “do what it takes attitude versus a “whatever” attitude. Bad stress goes down and good stress goes up to create a greater sense of contribution.

3. Create Inspiration
Fiction and non-fiction books on multiple themes, genres, and subjects can stir the thinking brain and grab a topic never thought of before.

People get stuck and sometimes all they need is a little inspiration or a shift in perspective to get them unstuck. An open discussion around a powerful book can be a huge inspiration to spark new ideas, outside of the box thinking, innovation, efficiencies, new approaches and more.

Inspiration often comes from getting outside of your current way of thinking and your environment and connecting thoughts from others, developments in other industries and stories about people that create new connections in our minds.

4. De-Stressing
Work can create stress and we need more ways to get rid of it. We can walk around and work out but getting into your heart and out of your head – can be a great way to relieve stress. Conversations around issues in the office can be therapeutic in this structured way like a therapy session. People can work together to find solutions to common issues using a strategy from one of the books that they read together and share perspectives on how these strategies can help reduce stress, improve efficiency and make the environment more fun.

The benefits of reducing stress at work will increase productivity, improve communication, elevate health, and improve relationships both inside and outside of the business environment.

5. Management Training
Make it mandatory to utilize what they have learned and apply it in their work. Get creative in getting all the above accomplished within this form of training. Instead of the usual course days that are often forgotten the day after the course. Engage the application of the principles they learn in the books over time in smaller chunks. Productivity will increase due to a focus on implementation, connection, and inspiration.

Billionaires can list multiple books to recommend that are fictional for influencing their decisions. Bill Gates cites Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. Jeff Bezos cites The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Just about every other major business innovator supports I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Books can open minds. Isn’t that why we tell children to read, to expand their thoughts and minds? Adults in major corporations should too.

12 Ways to Avoid Distractions

Distractions are killing your productivity. Top Time management tips to stay focused. These time management strategies give you options to avoid and conquer distractions.

Has this happened to you? You go online to investigate a topic and you find yourself sucked into a vortex of interesting articles that no longer have anything to do with what you were researching…but you may need it another time. You made a quick call with a friend to clarify an appointment but they wouldn’t let you off the phone. You are working on a project and your project team is constantly coming in to ask you random questions. Getting things done can be a challenge with all the distractions that surround you on a day to day basis!

Here are 12 ways to combat distractions. All of these are time management tips you have heard but are likely forgetting and /or not applying. Maybe one or two are new for you and will give you a new perspective on blocking distractions and staying focused!

Handling distractions:

  1. Timers

Set timer to create a psychological marker. It makes it a game and put some urgency into your mind to get you to think faster on your feet to get things done more effectively and efficiently. You also can plan breaks in between each timed session giving you’re the reward for your focused attention.

It works! Check out the Pomodoro Technique for more structure around your timed daily blocks.

  1. Set deadlines

Setting deadlines is another urgency trick for our brain to help shift us into action. Without a deadline, it is easy to procrastinate and continue to push off the activity. A deadline makes the task a project and allows you to plan for completion. It will have the effect to get your more focused and block out distractions more easily.

  1. Turn off electronics

Duh. Your bells and whistles will distract you and interrupt your train of thought. This is the same as multi-tasking and has been proven as a big no-no for productivity. Depending on which study you read, the experts say it takes 23 minutes to get back your full attention on a project matter.

Plan the times you look at your devices and turn off the ringer.

  1. Schedule breaks

Breaks are an essential part of rejuvenation. How you manage your energy tells you whether you will make good use of the next hour or squander it away. When you allow yourself a short break to get up and take a walk, watch a short video or listen to some music, you are helping yourself be more focused on the time you are working. Without breaks, your threshold to keep your attention on one thing can be easily broken. Breaks are not lazy rather a productivity strategy. Einstein was an infamous napper and he seemed to be pretty focused and productive.

Try this app to help you nap https://www.pzizz.com or get in the right headspace https://www.headspace.com

  1. Track distractions

Get a handle on your distractions by tracking them. I know it may seem annoying but record all the distractions you have for a week. You will be surprised at what you learn from this exercise and how much better you can avoid them when you realize where they are coming from.

Here is a free resource to track distractions http://p10app.com/distraction-tracking/

  1. Brain dump

David Allen is a big fan. Dump out all that you have in your head so you can be free to focus on the next activity. Give yourself 5 minutes before you end a block, leave a meeting or start something new and write down where you were, what is next and anything else you need to let go of. Evernote (https://evernote.com) is a great tool for that and has a great search engine to find it again.

  1. Get up earlier

You don’t have the time? Here is one way to make more time. Get up earlier and use the peace and quiet from the morning to get the most important things to you done first.

  1. Make a plan

When you have a plan for the day, you can be more focused on achieving it. It makes you more proactive versus getting caught up in whatever comes along. This sense of control keeps you more focused and more resistant to distractions.

  1. Connect to purpose and why important

When you are connecting to why something is important, this provides another psychology means to stay focused. You connect with its importance and stay on track.

  1. Clean up the clutter

Clutter creates distraction. Clean your desk before you leave and clear your head before you start the day and see how big the increase is in your ability to stay focused.

  1. Get more sleep

No “if’s”, “and’s” or “but’s”, sleep makes a difference in making us more resilient and more resistant to distractions. Most people stay up late doing nothing important. Use that time for true recharge. Watching TV, despite our excuses is not a productive recharge. If you find it hard to focus, give yourself another 45 minutes of sleep and see how that might add to your ability to focus. You won’t know until you try it. Top performers don’t say they will sleep wen they are dead!

  1. Say no

Practice saying no to people. If you are overloaded that in itself is causing a distraction. Look at your calendar and respectfully bow out of a few things to get your focus back.

It is only your responsibility to proactively block distractions so that your environment is productive. You have to protect your space and time because if you don’t manage your time, someone else will.

What is time management? Well, managing distractions is a subset of your time management efforts. Managing distractions is how you manage time. Staying focused during the time you have can be the most important time management skill.

It is time to build this new muscle and get one up on the distractions that are sabotaging your goals and your productivity.

10 Social Media Alternative Options to be More Productive

Social media is known to be a productivity killer. The average person will spend more than five years of their lives on social media, according to a study by influencer marketing agency Mediakix. That is derived from the daily usage figures below.

While there are alternative options, why do we turn to social media?

Some people are on social media to promote their businesses, but I see three major reasons we reach for social media. They are there to procrastinate from work or look for solace and connection.

Let’s examine each one.

1. Boredom:
If you aren’t clear what you are doing next why not jump into a social media app and read something to pass the time. People are not happy with down time so we seek stimulation. If we are waiting in line – check social media, stuck on hold- check social media, even in the bathroom-check social media. Sad but true.

Here are some more productive alternatives to fight off boredom and boost your energy and focus when you return.

1. Go for a walk in nature:
Getting out of your day-to-day environment and into nature is a great way to get your body moving, change your breathing and energize your mind.

2. Drink a glass of water:
As simple as it is, getting up and getting a glass of water changes your chemistry to break the pattern of thought you were having so that when you come back you can be in a different state of mind.

3. Learn/enhance a skill:
If you want a productive break, take the time to learn a new skill that will support reaching your goals faster or fulfill a personal desire with something you love.

4. Medivate:
I made up this new word to combine the benefits of clarity and focus of both meditation and motivation. The definition is to focus ones mind during deep breathing for a period of time on something inspirational that that creates intensity, direction, and persistence.

Two of my favorites from Tony Robbins are: https://www.tonyrobbins.com/priming-exercise/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smhzRqHkpZs

2. Need Inspired:

Just seeing a picture on social media may inspire you for a new meal idea for dinner or a moment but it isn’t enough to inspire you to consistently eat healthier and make a long term change in your life for the better.

When we need a boost of motivation to

Here is what I do to inspire myself:
1. Go outside into nature:
Getting out into nature is a great way to get your mind clear and open you up to new ideas. When we are in nature and move our body we can tap into more creativity. Stop doing if you want to get creative and inspired.

2. Watch a TED talk:
There are so many great TED talks available across various different topics. Who and What inspires you? Find talks from those people or topics and get a deeper boost of inspiration. Here is one I did a few months ago, perhaps it will inspire you. http://bit.ly/energyofthought

3. Listen to Music:
Music can be a beautiful inspiration and it isn’t really doing anything so you are also giving your mind a rest so you can recharge your energy reserves towards what you need to do afterward.

4. Connect to your goals:
When you connect to your goals and really appreciate why they are important to you, you can re-ignite your inspiration

For more check out this site https://tinybuddha.com/blog/50-ways-to-find-inspiration-create-explore-expand/

3. Seeking Connection:

One of our basic needs as a human is to connect with others. We know that babies die if they are not held after birth. We all have a deep seeded need to belong to a group and feel like we matter

One way of feeling like we belong is to click that picture that others have clicked. My peeps. We share a common interest. That isn’t the best form of connection but it is fast and easy and out brains are always looking for fast and easy. The greater the intensity of emotion the higher the connection. Of course, you want to seek a positive experience creating a positive connection.

Here are a few more productive ways to create connection for ourselves that is deeper and richer than social media provides us.

1. Compliment people
When we receive compliments it makes us feel good. Why not take a break and walk around passing out compliments and see that it doesn’t only feel good to get compliments but to give them as well.

2. Pet some animals
There is something peaceful in animals that bring out our unconditional love. It doesn’t matter that we haven’t met this animal before, you give this animal your love and attention and they give it back in return. There is a reason animals are supporting people with stress emotional disorders, they have a healing nature about them.

3. Wow someone
Someone coined the expression “Giving is living”. When you give or do something special for someone, it makes them feel good and you feel good too! Start giving more and bring more energy to everything you do.

Turning to social media isn’t always the best chose for one of these needs. The reason being is it still requires a lot of stimulation at a time we need to recharge. Time management tips can also be about what to do in your free times, breaks and transitions to better manage your energy when you are working. When you want to recharge energy your best source is not going to be with further stimulation with social media but focus on rejuvenation of the mind, body, and spirit.

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