How Often Do You Waste 17 Seconds?

Still working my way through Brian Tracy’s productivity essays in his fun book, Eat That Frog!* I felt a real connection with his proposition that multitasking is really an illusion.

How many tasks do you try to do at a given moment?

I have been guilty of being on the phone, typing an email, planning my lunch, juggling a hot cup of coffee while thinking about sailing all at once.

I bet you can even do me one better, right?

The interesting fact is people can only focus on one thing at a time. Mr. Tracy says people who are shifting their attention back and forth from one thing to another, like swinging a searchlight back and forth, are actually “task shifting”.

Science has shown that if you stop what you are working on to reply to an incoming call or email ping, you lose seventeen (17) seconds of productive work time. That’s in addition to the actual minutes you put into the alternate task.

As a result, we are all working harder and harder and getting less done and making more mistakes.

The solution offered by Mr. Tracy is to ONLY check your email twice a day at 11am and 4pm and leave a special phone number where you can be reached in an emergency. Can you imagine?

I am going to try this for the next few days. My clients will probably get annoyed, but let’s see. Feel free to try it yourself and we will compare notes in a few days.

*EAT THAT FROG!, by Brian Tracy, © 2017, Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., California, USA.

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