3.15.11– Fighting MTDD: Multi-Task Deficit Disorder

An epidemic is currently sweeping across most organizations.  Millions of people suffer from the effects of information overload, an overabundance of applications or tools  and having to “do more with less.”   Attention spans are increasingly shorter.  And this impacts people at all levels.  In fact, the higher someone is in an organization, the shorter their attention span.  But, there is help.  There is something you can do to combat Multi-Task Deficit Disorder (MTDD):

  1.  Shorten meetings.   Face it, you love meetings.  If you didn’t, why would you spend so much time in them?  Stop calling unnecessary meetings.  Stop attending unnecessary meetings.  Take every meeting on your calendar that you lead and see what happens when you cut the time for each in half.  Get right down to business.  The longer the meeting, the more likely people will put you on mute and head back to their inbox.
  2. Prepare.  Don’t show up unprepared. It’s almost fashionable nowadays to schedule a meeting to prep for the next meeting.  Do everyone a favor and prepare.  Have a purpose, goal or agenda and do any necessary homework prior to the meeting.
  3. B.L.U.F.  If you’re going to be more efficient in your interactions and communication, then you need to get the bottom line up front.  Keep emails brief – no more than a couple of lines.  Get to the point.  Quickly.
  4. Force people to use videoconferencing.   Most laptops come with a built in webcam nowadays.  Make people use them.  People are less likely to ignore you if you are staring right at them. 
  5. Turn off the distracters.  Allow yourself to focus on the task at hand by turning off your instant messaging, and yes, even briefly close your email while you are meeting, talking with someone, or trying to get critical work done.
  6. Ask for attention.  Ask people to close their laptops, put away crackberries and iPhones.  Hear someone clicking away on their keyboard as you’re talking on a conference call?  Call the person out and ask them to focus.  Constantly ask people, by name, for input.

 What’s your tip?  Send it to me.  I’ll read through your comments while I’m on my next conference call cranking out a PowerPoint presentation.

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One Response to 3.15.11– Fighting MTDD: Multi-Task Deficit Disorder

  1. Recently from Harvard Business Review:

    “Fully 62 percent of the Web windows that college students open on their laptops during class are completely unrelated to the class, according to a study by James M. Kraushaar and David C. Novak, of the University of Vermont. Unsurprisingly, the students who allocate their cognitive resources this way get lower grades than their more attentive peers. Instant messaging is an “especially virulent” distraction, the researchers say.”

    Bad work habits start early…..

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