A Day Without Multitasking
I continue to ponder the analogy of traffic and its relation to multitasking and managing our businesses and life in general. Personally and professionally, the past couple weeks have provided much fodder. Today’s blog reviews a bit of what I’ve discovered personally.
Last week was wicked. Over several days, our family said good-by to my dear Aunt Nellie. Actually, she was my aunt-in-law, but through the years, she and I often joked that we were the outlaws. In reality, she was my aunt-in-heart. You know those people who enter your life and instantly seem to know your soul? They love and support you unconditionally and it has nothing to do with bloodlines – those are in-heart relatives and friends. I’m blessed to have and have had a number of these people in my life. I will miss my aunt, but in our final time together, she provided me something completely unexpected.
We had to drive 2.5 hours between services in New York and Connecticut along the infamous Interstate 95. Thankfully the traffic was light, the day was beautiful, and the ride, though long, was cathartic. After spending some time reminiscing, we mostly became quiet – each of us slipping into our own thoughts. For me, having previously lived in Connecticut, the familiarity of all we passed was welcoming. At the section where you can see the Long Island Sound, I wondered about the cargo ships – where they were from and what they might be hauling. At many exits, I longed turn off onto roads that lead to Connecticut friends whom I haven’t seen in too long, and accepted that there would be no reunions this trip. I studied the craggy trees and bushes that line the highway. Their imperfection is intriguing to me as it is borne from years of weathering the many storms that roll up the East Coast. Storms, like traffic, are so unpredictable.
Previously, I would never have considered a ride along the usually hectic I-95 a “four-way stop,” but on that day and in that time, it became exactly that. The frenetic traffic patterns of the many roads of my life paused – there was no multitasking, no worrying about other things. I was in the moment and it was as it should be. Somehow the sad ride along I-95 became a peaceful journey. We need these “four-way stops” to power down, reflect and renew.
Women in High Gear
What do you get when you mix pearls from Pennsylvania and cowboy boots from Tennessee with a healthy dose of Twitter? Well, it’s a power-packed recipe for success in the form of Women in High Gear: A Guide for Entrepreneurs, On-Rampers, and Aspiring Executives by Anne Deeter Gallaher (@AnneDGallaher) and Amy D. Howell (@HowellMarketing) . These two highly accomplished marketing and public relations professionals have co-authored an inspirational and useful guide that transcends gender.
What is High Gear? Anne and Amy recognize that the answer will be different for each person. However, they provide a guideline of qualities that includes confidence, resilience, intuition and vision. Following their example, High Gear also means taking charge of your direction and connecting the dots on the road to your success.
I enjoyed the two-voice format of the book with Anne and Amy each bringing their experience and perspective to the subjects addressed. It is a book chock full of advice, examples and tips on areas that include decisiveness, personal branding, emotional resilience and much more. For me, the most compelling part was learning about the journeys followed by Anne and Amy. Their backstories are the foundation for their accomplishments. Each took a different path to achievement. The obstacles they overcame and choices they made are similar to those women face every day.
Women in High Gear resonates with the reader because Anne and Amy are very High Gear! I have known and admired Anne for several years. She is a respected and active leader in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania business community and is involved in many philanthropic activities. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her better through the Harrisburg Social Media Club, which she founded. Through my involvement with the Club, I’ve made many amazing connections, including Amy Howell. Amy’s another well-respected leader in her community of Memphis, Tennessee, and like me, an ardent user of smiley faces and exclamation points in her postings! Seeing Anne and Amy together and in action, you would think they had been friends for decades. Not so, they met on Twitter.
This brings up another excellent and important theme in the book, the power of social media. Anne and Amy explain how their digital connections have lead to some remarkable opportunities. They provide solid and applicable advice on developing an online circle of support and influence.
Recently, there have been a slew of books dedicated to advising women on how to succeed. Women in High Gear deserves to be at the top of any list of these books. Although it may be targeted to women, its main message of personal accountability and the wealth of information provided, makes this book a must-read for anyone (including men!) aspiring to High Gear.
For more information and upcoming events, visit The Women in High Gear website.
“The Streets of San Francisco”
In 1985, Carmen Hass-Klau, an expert in public transportation, introduced Americans to the concept of Verkehrsberuhigung. Translated from German, it means “traffic calming” which is basically the measures engineers and planners use for intentionally reducing or slowing motor vehicle traffic. I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m sharing this rather long and difficult to pronounce word and what does it have to do with multitasking.
Yesterday, I was catching up with a dear friend who recently returned from a three-week visit to her daughter’s home in San Francisco. She was saying that driving alone in an unfamiliar city had been the most challenging part of her trip. She was forced to step outside her comfort zone. Then she mentioned that it was made tolerable by the fact that many of the intersections had 4-way stops, affording her an opportunity to take a breath and gain her confidence back. WHAM! You know those cartoons where the light bulb goes off over the character’s head…that was me! Verkehrsberuhigung is working on the streets of San Francisco – could it work in other areas of life as well?
I recently wrote about the downside to doing too much in a guest blog (The Problem with Multitasking) on Spin Sucks and have been developing a plan for eliminating unproductive multitasking. My friend’s traffic comment was an “Aha” moment. In business and life, we all have hilly, steep Lombard Streets to maneuver, so does creating our own “traffic calming” moments, those times that allow us a moment to breathe and regain confidence, make a difference? Are 4-way stops the answer to juggling? Stay tuned…
In the meantime, what kinds of “4-way stops” are effective for you? I may use your comments in a future post!
Isn’t it ironic in this age of cutting-edge tools people are more pressed to deal with time management than ever before? Technology has provided many benefits that enhance both our personal and work lives, and yet it has also contributed to many of our time management issues. The explosion of instantaneous information and connections has led to an expectation for instantaneous responses. So how do we manage our time in the face of constant distractions?
Below are 3 tips to get you started.
Step 1 – Research & Analysis
Spend 2-3 days honestly logging how you spend your time. Once armed with this journal of activity, you will be able to see if there are any obvious time wasters or issues that need to be addressed.
Step 2 – Prioritize
Evaluate and categorize the areas of your life that are important (work, family, volunteering, hobbies, etc) and in each area label tasks as Urgent, Normal, or Low priority. Your weekly and daily “To Do” lists will be much easier to create with this approach.
Step 3 – Delegate & Outsource
Stop spending time on activities that reduce your productivity. Whether it is weeding through daily emails, scheduling appointments, or waiting for a home repair service, your time is likely much more valuable than the cost of outsourcing non-income generating tasks. Delegating lower priority work projects, hiring a maid service or simply eliminating activities that torpedo time management will give you the time to focus on more important business and personal matters.
Employing these 3 simple and effective tips for time management will help you get back your valuable time.
Words, words, words…
…is one of my favorite Shakespearean lines. In Hamlet’s grumpy exchange with Polonius, Shakespeare simply defines the meat and potatoes of Hamlet’s deep struggle for finding meaning in the words he hears and reads. Our digitized information age has led to a modern-day struggle – How do we manage and comprehend the voluminous amount of incoming information available to us?
The technology of the Internet and the devices that give us fingertip access has created a non-stop stream of incoming information. As Kate Finley recently commented on Spin Sucks, it can become “madness.” I imagine our wealth of words today would have driven poor Hamlet right over the edge! The “rub” for us is in developing a content stream management plan.
Here are 4 tips for gaining control over your incoming content stream:
Decide what you MUST read. Whether it’s industry updates, certain bloggers, mainstream news, or any of the vast array of daily information that is available, the first step is identifying what it is you need to be reading. Keep track of regular resources and add/remove them as needed.
Choose a system for pulling in your Must-Read info. Use tools like Evernote, Instapaper, Pocket, RSS feeds, or even simply email filters for compiling your important info into an easy to access location.
Develop a reading plan. Schedule a time during your day that makes sense for you to read all the info you’re compiling. Whether it’s over your morning coffee or during a dedicated read/follow-up time make it a daily priority.
Act on your impulses! Keep a journal or some other system for note taking on what you read and then identify action items that arise from your reading. You may be spurred to write or want to further research an issue or recommended resource. This reading journal will be your “To-Do list” for actions and a record of what you’ve read.
Take this simplistic system, expand and personalize it to your own preferences. Ultimately, these tips will help you organize and understand the “Words, words, words” that matter to you.
I would enjoy hearing what resources do you use to keep track of the inflow of content?
Photo from Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948)
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