Do you text and drive?
Come on now, be honest.
How about talking on the phone?
I don’t know how society is going to end up handling this one, because in many ways the multi-tasking genie is out of the bottle. If people find themselves in a car with time and a phone in their hands, what do you think they’re going to do?
They’ll do business, catch up with friends, check on loved ones, you name it – even though statistics suggest that talking on the phone while you’re driving makes you just as much a danger to yourself and others as driving while drunk.
This behavior is dangerous because it’s really hard for people to split their focus.
So I’m wondering how this affects career development. If you’re out there networking, building your resume and making contacts, are you really paying as much attention to your current job as you should?
Or are you the office equivalent of a teenage text-er, careening through corporate America, an accident waiting to happen?
I’ve seen it go both ways; from the very ambitious manager who clearly saw himself destined for bigger and better things, so he worked his butt off to make his division the sort of success he could build on; to the woman who sort of checked out after an altercation with her supervisor and who was just biding her time until she could get out of there.
I think it’s important that we acknowledge the limits of multi-tasking. We really can’t do a bunch of things at once nearly as well as we think we can.
But we can time stack a few things, like waiting for bread to rise, or watching paint dry. There are a few other, more work-related things, too, like being on hold, or updating software.
This means that scheduling is really the secret to effective multi-tasking at work. I think cleaning out your e-mail in-box while on hold is perfectly fine, for example.
However, it’s obviously not fine to polish your resume during work hours. When it comes to scheduling a split focus for your career, your task is to find appropriate times and ways to divide your energy and concentration – not to pick the right time to Xerox your resume on the office copy machine.
Although we all know it’s been done, using work hours to directly pursue a job somewhere else is a lot like texting and driving.
It’s not only bad form, it can be downright dangerous. When even keeping your career goals in mind can divert your focus from your current responsibilities, it’s important to use caution when you schedule career time-stacking.
by Danielle Dresden