More Evidence that Multitasking Sucks

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In this day of multiple screens and texting-while-you’re-on-a-conference-call-and-emailing-at-the-same-time — some folks refuse to see the ability to “multi-task” as anything but a badge of honor.

I used to be extremely guilty of this, until my stress levels rose to the point at which I realized how wrong this attitude really is.

As Julie Morgenstern, author of the Time Management from the Inside Out, tells Forbes.com, “It has been scientifically demonstrated that the brain cannot effectively or efficiently switch between tasks, so you lose time. It takes four times longer to recognize new things so you’re not saving time; multitasking actually costs time. You also lose time because you often make mistakes.”

As Guy Winch, PhD, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries, tells Health.com, what we call multitasking is actually task-switching.  According to Winch, “When it comes to attention and productivity, our brains have a finite amount,” he says.

Now comes some new research that finds our multi-tasking is actually causing seemingly small interruptions during our day — which actually may translate to hours of disruption each workday.

Check out this Fast Company post about new research by University of California-Irvine business professor Gloria Mark which finds that, on average, we are hit with 4 major interruptions per hour — each of which takes us as much as 23 minutes to “get back on track.”  44% of these interruptions are actually caused by our attempts to multitask — or, rather, we move on to new tasks, whether the previous task is finished or not.

Bottom line: If you think you’re special because of your ability to multi-task, you’re on the wrong track.

Focus your day.  Focus on three to four priorities each day. Batch your emails to only check your inbox three or four times per day. Don’t check your phone while you’re focused on a priority to-do.

Remember, if you think you’re multi-tasking, what you’re really doing is multi-interrupting your day.

And your productivity could be dipping, while your anxiety level is rising.

 

3 Common Characteristics of Successful Football Teams and Entrepreneurs

3 Common Characteristics Football Entrepreneurs

I’ve spent most of today watching my favorite college football teams. As I watch my various favorite teams, and the highlights of other teams across the country, it’s dawned on me that there are a number of common characteristics shared by successful football teams — and successful entrepreneurs.

Here are three of those characteristics:

1) Fundamentals Matter.

Explosive offenses, stout defenses, and exciting punt returns don’t matter if the fundamentals aren’t there. Missed tackles, needless penalties, fumbled balls, poor clock management — all of these serve to counteract talent and potential on any football team. Sound fundamentals separate the good teams from the great teams.

And so it goes in business.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to work around a fellow consultant who is extremely smart, has great ideas — but simply doesn’t know how to handle himself in meetings and with clients. It’s his undoing. I also once worked for an organization who fired a very talented consultant because he simply couldn’t deliver the basics of what the client needed — he was great in meetings, and was the ultimate “big idea guy”. But when it came to simply moving the ball down the field, he couldn’t do it.

Fundamentals matter.

2) Big Plays Cement the Legacy.

Joe Montana is one of my favorite quarterbacks of all time. It’s not because of his stats. It’s because he always seemed to make the big plays when his team needed it. That goes all the way back to when he quarterbacked Notre Dame to a Cotton Bowl victory despite suffering from flu and near-hypothermia.

It’s the same in business. For example, there are a number of tech companies making big bucks — but think of those “big play” leaders who have cemented their legacy by changing the game with big plays that have revolutionized their fields. Steve Jobs with the iPhone or iTunes.  Jeff Bezos with books. Larry Page and Sergey Brin with Google (who I believe are about to revolutionize the tech space once again with Google Glass).

2) A Game of Inches.

While the ability to make those big plays cements the legacy, football is essentially a game of inches. The game is won or lost on the wars going on in the trenches, between the lineman, off the blocks of the fullbacks, or the ability for the tailback to get the two inches needed for a first down.

So it goes in business. Perhaps one of the best examples I can share is the story told by Google’s vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra about Steve Jobs. One one Sunday afternoon in 2008, Jobs called Gundotra at home on a Sunday — all because Jobs was concerned about how the Google logo looked on the iPhone.

As Gundotra tells it, Jobs told him:

“So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I’ve already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow.”

The CEO of one of the world’s most iconic companies focused on a Sunday about how the one-inch (about) Google logo was appearing on his company’s phones?

It’s one of the things that made Steve Jobs great. He knew that success was a game of inches.

Are there any other similarities you see between football and entrepreneurship?  Please let us know in the comments.

The Importance of Unpacking

The importance of unpacking

During the past two weeks, we’ve moved our family cross-country — from the Chicago area to Charleston, SC.

Last week, our world was all about packing. Today, the movers arrived and all we have on our mind is unpacking.

In this previous post, I wrote about how clutter (email, desk, etc.) can lead to stress and anxiety. Well, I’m really feeling that today, as we are surrounded by unpacked boxes and crates waiting to be emptied throughout the house.

I know that unpacking and getting these boxes out of our home will reduce my stress level and make my wife and I feel so much more relaxed.

But doesn’t that principle apply to work, as well? Don’t we all have those daily “boxes” that we need to unpack to help us be more productive and less anxious?

I’m talking about all those tasks and projects that build up in your mind throughout the day. Sometimes those tasks make it to your to-do list, but sometimes they sit in your mind, unpacked, contributing to the clutter.

It’s so important that we unpack on a regular basis.

How do I do it?

  • Well, for starters, at the beginning of every week (usually Sunday evening), I “unpack” all the tasks and projects in my head into a master to-do list for the week ahead.  I think through every client and every project, and I write down the tasks I need to accomplish for each.  For the past several months, I’ve been using Google Keep for this universal list, because of its ease of use and its availability on my Android smartphone and tablet.
  • Throughout the week, whenever I have a task that pops into my head — I made sure to unpack it as soon as possible by getting it down in Google Keep in the universal list. By getting it out of my head and in the list, it let’s my brain know that I’ve unpacked it, and that it is in the queue to get acted upon. It’s amazing how much peace of mind you’ll experience simply by getting these tasks out of your head and in to your list.
  • I feel it’s important to only really set out to accomplish 3-4 major tasks each day (trust me, other, less important tasks, client calls, etc. will pop into your day to fill it up). As such, I take three or four of the tasks from the universal list each day to set as my daily priorities.
  • Please note that when I list a task in my to-do or priority list, I make it a very specific task. For example, if the overall project is to write a one-page media proposal for a client — that project involves several tasks.  For example, one task may be emailing one of my ad buyers for rates in a specific market. I bring this up because I used to confuse projects and tasks.  As such, my to-do list would be full of projects that would require the completion of multiple tasks. Be specific and make your tasks what David Allen calls “next actions.”
  • By all means, mark off your tasks as you complete them. A sense of accomplishment always follows the ability to visually see the tasks you’ve completed during the day.

It’s easy  for entrepreneurs to get cluttered minds. The amount of tasks or ideas that come at us in a single day can be overwhelming.

That’s why it’s so important to unpack, get the tasks out of your head and into your list, and focus on priorities from that list every day.

How do you unpack?  Do you have trouble unpacking the tasks and ideas in your head? Please let us know in the comments section!

 

What do Apple, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Wright Brothers have in common? [VIDEO]

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There are a number of computer manufacturers out there. So, what has made Apple so successful?

There have been a number of civil rights leaders over the years. So, what made Martin Luther King, Jr., so inspiring?

Further — why did the Wright Brothers succeed where others had failed?

In his 2009 TedX Talk (which has garnered more than 12 million views to date), Simon Sinek explains the common principle that made each of these innovators and leaders special:

All the great and inspiring leaders and organizations in the world — whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King, Jr. or the Wright Brothers — they all think, act and communicate the exact same way … and it’s the complete opposite to everyone else.

Sinek calls it “The Golden Circle.” He also explains that it “all starts with why.”

In other words:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Watch this video below to watch Simon explain this simple, yet powerful, principle in his own words. Then think about how you can begin applying it to your own business, family or organization:

(H/T to Bobby Matthews for introducing me to this great video on Facebook).

SignNow: My Most Valuable Mobile App Right Now

SignNow app

Back in March, my wife and I were on vacation and driving in the car.  We thought we had finished all of our paperwork to file our company’s taxes — but, lo and behold, our accountant emailed us with a few more forms to sign.

But there was a problem — we were in the car, not near a printer, heading toward a restaurant to eat dinner.

Not to worry — I searched iTunes and found SignNow, an app which allows you to download .pdfs and sign them right from your mobile phone.

It sounds pretty simple, but during the past five months, I’ve come to rely heavily on this app for work.

I have a pretty heavy travel schedule, and I often am required to sign insertion orders and contracts. I used to duck into hotel business centers or search for the nearest FedEx office to print, sign and fax documents. Not anymore, thanks to SignNow.

The app is now on my iPad, my Nexus 7, my iPhone and my Samsung Galaxy s4 (yes, I’m a tech geek with way too many mobile devices.)

The beauty of SignNow is it’s simplicity:

  • Click on the .pdf attachment in an email, and you will be given the option to open the document in SignNow.
  • Tap on the area you’d like to sign, write text or add a date. SignNow, will give you three options: Text, Signature, Date.
  • If you tap on “Text”, it will open a little box with the keyboard to type in whatever text you’d like to add (like a credit card number, your printed name, etc.)
  • If you tap on “Signature”, it allows you to draw your signature with your finger, and it saves it in the app. That way, if you have multiple places to sign on a document, you can just use the same signature over and over again.
  • If you tap “date”, it automatically fills in today’s date on the document.

You can, of course, save the signed document and share (via email and other options) it.

SignNow has been a real timesaver for me, and I highly recommend it.  Interestingly, SignNow actually provides a whitepaper showing the ROI of the app to your business.

Do you use any similar apps? Any others you’d recommend? Please let us know in the comments!