Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Multitasking: The Enemy of Ideas

Why are you reading this? Couldn’t or shouldn’t you be doing something else?

If you’re like many of us, you may already be doing something else right now, in addition to reading this post. Responding to emails, perusing networking sites, firing off a text message, twittering, talking fast on your mobile.

A good column in the current BtoB Online calls attention to this issue. We euphemistically call it multitasking, but it’s often more like “going through the motions.” All this connectivity is putting us into a weird trance.

It’s not only unproductive; it’s uncreative. For anyone in the business of ideas—and aren’t we all?—this is something to be concerned about. Think of the old saying, “a jack of all trades and a master of none.” Try to do too much at once, and you end up doing nothing of value.

Communications technologies tempt and distract at every turn. But they aren’t going away. Although it’s odd for a blogger to tell readers to tune out the Internet for a while, it’s still good advice. (Next week, we’ll explore how that might even raise your IQ and reading comprehension skills.)

When was the last time at the office that you shut your door—if you have one—and, more importantly, shut down your computer and various handheld tech gadgets for any length of time? These days, to get creative, to really get into it, we probably have to put it on the calendar and set a reminder. Commit to an hour or two per week, maybe, to start.

Go ahead. Just for a few minutes. Put down the mouse, back away slowly, and let the ideas flow.

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