Google reported that 91 per cent of its Malaysian respondents are “multi-screening” with their smartphones, meaning that while watching TV, or working a laptop, Malaysians were at the VERY SAME TIME, using their phones.
The Malay Mail reported this as Malaysians being champion multi-taskers, but I look at it as a negative, and instead view it as indication of just how easily distracted we are.
It used to be that multi-tasking was a prized asset in an employee, but as a regular cari-makan working adult, I have to say that trying NOT to multi-task is getting harder by the day. A brief boring moment in a call, a e-mail alert while you’re writing a document, a phone call in the middle of a presentation–trying to focus on ONE thing at ONE time is HARD.
And most of my best work comes from uni-tasking. In fact, all the science leads to conclude that focusing on a single task leads to better performance in a shorter amount of time. Multi-tasking is a myth that only about 2% of the population can do at any one time, the greatest among us are those that focus on a single core activity at once.
And uni-tasking isn’t just for better performance, it leads to better satisfaction.
The only real time I uni-task is when I’m gaming, when I’m playing DOTA I naturally turn off all distractions and focusing purely on winning a game, every distraction I get while gaming is both irritating and quickly addressed. I don’t leave half-way through a game to view my facebook feed or read e-mail, I’m 100% committed to killing the enemy.
And do I enjoy gaming–you bet.
Is that because of focus–yes!
Or so says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounce cheeks-sent-me-high), who authored one of the most influential books on the subject–flow.
Flow is that feeling you get when you’re deeply immersed into an activity, we all have at least one of them, or at the very least Sex. That one thing you do, when all other distractions are immediately switched off, and you’re focused on it. In fact, you’re so focused on the matter,that you lose sense of time, and even your sense of being–it’s the feeling of flow.
Some get it from gaming, others from some other activity, but think of the last time you were so thoroughly engaged in something you lost sense of time. That’s the feeling of flow–and nobody is multi-tasking while they’re flowing.
In a sense, smartphones and all the technological gadgetry that surrounds us make it impossible for us to achieve flow, and that’s a negative.
Maybe it’s time we put down our smartphones, and start looking for employees who can uni-task, because let’s face it, life is better that way.