What are you doing right now? Are you focusing on reading these words? Do you have an eye on your email, texts, or social media? If you are working from home, are you dealing with your children? Or maybe you are do some combination or all of these activities. Or are you on the phone? We all think we can multi-task and do it well, but the truth is we can’t.
How many times a day, when you are on the phone, can you hear the keyboard and mouse clicks on the other end of the line? Are they taking notes or looking up something relevant to the conversation, or are they surfing Twitter or Facebook? Or maybe they are reading an unrelated, substantive email? You know they weren’t listening when they ask you to repeat what you just said after you ask them a question because they don’t know what you asked.
Doing any of these activities while talking to someone on the phone is comparable to looking at your emails and texts while in a meeting or at lunch with someone. In both cases you are checked out and telling the people speaking or who you are dining with that they are not as important as whatever is on your phone.
It simply is very hard to focus on two things (or more) at once. Coming across as your best possible self or doing your best work matters. It’s your reputation and people remember.
For a week (or for those truly device or multi-tasking addicted, a day) try to focus on what is in front of you, whether a person or a project. If you are heading into a meeting, don’t bring your phone or leave it in your pocket or purse. Better yet, turn it off. When you are on the phone, leave that mouse alone and keep things that interest you off of the screen(s) in front of you. If you have room and a wireless headset, get up and walk around focusing on the conversation.
This is about focus and respect. No one may know you are trying to multi-task other than you, but it is amazing what you learn when you actually listen.