Split Attention Payback


The rewards of focus are powerful and so are the paybacks when we multitask and lose focus. 


I had a rather humorous and time consuming payback this week following my choice to split my attention during a client call.  I was holding for my client on the phone and noticed my extended keyboard keys were a bit dirty.  So I unconsciously pulled out a cloth and started cleaning them not even realizing I was doing two things at once.


At the end of the call I could not schedule the next call as my Mac calendar was jammed.  It had that colored wheel spinning which lets me know some action is still in process or I need to force quit.


When I hung up I gasped, realizing my distracted focus (cleaning my keyboard) resulted in over 2,600 calendar entries to the same time on the same day—December 31, 1970 at 4:00 PM.  Being distracted I had not remembered to unplug the keyboard, so each press of a key made multiple entries.  Even Apple support did not understand how that could happen.


I begged the Apple tech guy to laugh at my behavior and the payback I received for multitasking but he declined, feeling badly he had no solution.  He then escalated the call for a solution that worked.


Fortunately I was able to laugh, remember to forgive myself for splitting my attention with my client, and unconsciously doing two things at once. 


There was a cost for my behavior…my client’s trust in having my full undivided attention and the time it took to undo the multiple entries.  The initial unsuccessful deleting I attempted on my own, plus the tech calls, took about an hour and then once we figured out how to delete them all it took the computer another hour to actually delete the 2,600 entries.


Jamming my calendar is a great metaphor for what I think happens to our brains when we are splitting our attention.  


And, in addition to stress and paybacks of multitasking, studies say that each distraction (to check a text, email, or Facebook) costs us 20 minutes of time (due to the other distractions that follow).


Now I know and believe it to be so.


Martha Invitations

1.  If you start to do two things at once ask what the payback or cost might be. 

2.  Watch your impulse to multitask and see if you would like to experiment with making a different choice. 

3.  If you find yourself multitasking, stop mid-stream and notice how your body feels.  

Next Hour of Focus Call May 14, 2014  9 A.M. PDT, Reminder will be sent a week ahead.


Martha Treats, created by Martha Ringer, is distributed to clients and guests.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed, new guests too.






Martha Treats, created by Martha Ringer, is distributed to clients and guests.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed, new guests too.



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