Quitters Can Win!
During a recent staff meeting my colleagues and I were asked to complete a “True Colors” personality test. It came as no surprise to me or anyone who knows me that I was a fairly dominant “gold” person. In short, this means I’m responsible, practical, dependable, loyal, caring, orderly, procedural, and drum roll please: organized. In fact, sometimes I’m organized to a fault. I’m very scheduled and depend heavily on my calendar and everything on it. But, I recently read that sticking to a schedule, along with other supposedly time-tested time management rules, can sometimes make us less productive, not more.
Steve Prentice, a workplace productivity expert (a job title after my own heart!) says that although following your hourly, daily, weekly and any other agenda might keep you organized, but doing so can also bog you down. He doesn’t advise abandoning schedules and to-do lists, but he does suggest planning out only about 80 percent of your day, leaving the other 20 percent open for the unexpected. He says allow for “breathing room,” I hear “chill Carla!”
Prentice also told “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine (September 2011) that procrastination is not necessarily a bad word. He notes that some people actually do their best work and experience a true adrenaline rush when things come down to the wire. If you are a procrastinator, tackle small jobs while putting off a bigger, more time consuming job. Doing so will not only give you the feeling of accomplishment, but you will get stuff done! Also recommended, and I think this is helpful to anyone, is to write down what needs to be done. This will relieve any worry that you might forget something and it will also ensure that everything needed is accounted for.
Now for the booger of all current boogers: multitasking. I am the queen of multitasking and actually pride myself on being able to accomplish more than one thing at a time. Comparatively, I often tease my husband about his lack of ability to do so. Where do you fall? Do you email and watch TV at the same time? Do you make dinner while doing house work? Can you focus on just one thing or do you need “all hands on deck?” Well, come to find out that multitasking may not be so efficient after all.
A study by the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that those who do two things at once may take up to 50 percent longer to finish what they’re doing than those who do one thing at a time. In addition, Stanford University sociologist Clifford Ness found that chronic multitaskers are less likely to remember details! Wow!
All this may come very hard for you and for society as a whole to grasp and adhere to. We are programmed to make the most of every second and never, ever give up. But, even giving up is being challenged. It seems quitting is not the same as failing anymore. If you find yourself at a true dead end, experts say it may not be a bad idea to quit. So I guess quitters do sometimes win and some winners do quit!
Lastly, it’s highly recommended that everyone take downtime. This doesn’t mean close your office door and watch reruns of your favorite TV show, it means simply take a minute to let your concentration wane. A study by Melbourne’s Australia University actually showed that office workers who spent a small amount of time surfing the web for fun were 12 more productive than those who didn’t.
Maybe it’s time for a new New Year’s Resolution, and that’s to simply slow down and smell the roses. Regardless of whatever you’ve heard or think you know, you can’t do it all. Running in place and running ragged will get you nowhere. Just ask the experts.