I just finished reading a Reader’s Digest article called 7 Dumb Things We Do. In this piece Joseph T. Hallinan laid out some of the mistakes we make and tips on how we can avoid making them.
Of all of the dumb things he says we do – like overlooking details – multi-tasking made the list. Now, I totally get that talking on the phone while driving is a bad idea, but I’m a busy homeschooling mom who also has six kiddos to love on, care for and teach, a husband to keep happy, a household to manage, and a blog to keep up. I always thought that I was doing a good job of trying to get a bunch of stuff done at once, but now I’m not so sure.
Hallinan tells us that the to-do list in our brains is known as “working memory,” and it keeps track of all the short-term stuff we need to remember. But switching from task to task creates problems. “The contents of our working memory can evaporate like water in a desert,” he says. “After only about two seconds, things begin to disappear. Within 15 seconds of considering a new problem, you’ll have forgotten the old problem. In some cases, the forgetting rate can be as high as 40 percent. Workplace studies have found that it takes up to 15 minutes to regain a deep state of concentration after a distraction.”
I can see that. I often lose concentration when flittering from one thing to another. Burnt pancakes and sour laundry are often the result of my multi-tasking efforts. But, since I can’t turn off my kiddos while I’m trying to cook, or my hubby while I’m trying to clean, maybe I need to just slow down!
All joking aside, slowing down is truly one of the helpful “tricks” I picked up to avoid mistakes and become more productive. In fact, it was Hallinan’s trick #4.
Slow down. Multitasking can cause our error rate to go up, as our attention becomes divided. It makes sense to slow down and do things one at a time. The slower approach may actually be more efficient in the long run.
There are actually eight tricks to keeping errors at bay. I urge you to go see which dumb things you do and how you can avoid them. Let me know what you discover!