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Managing creative people: focus

by on 14 Jun, 2010

Managing creative people is a struggle.  The very tools they use make managing creative people even more of a struggle, research shows.

Creative people are heavy users of the Internet and pcs, as well as of other devices.  This makes them heavy multitaskers.

Heavy multitaskers spend more time than light multitaskers repeating the same task, research shows.  And they spend more time switching to new tasks, the same ressearch shows, according to The New York Times.

PPT of multitasking research results

These results reflect research at Stanford University.  The legendary Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) recently ran a seminar on multitasking.  And Wired has also written about the issue.

The outcome of all this is to focus.  The more multitasking you do the slower you may be.  And, according to the research, the more stressed.  Neither of which are good in a creative working environment.

Here’s some tips to compensate:

  • Try to complete one task at a time,
  • Don’t react just because an email comes in,
  • Don’t interrupt others unless essential, and
  • Pick a few things and do them well.
  1. Brilliant advice! I hope lots of people will act on it.

    Wish I knew how to act on it. But, sadly, in my case, it’s more than fifty years too late.

  2. Thank you. It’s time we spread the word about the myth of multi-tasking.

    It does not work.

    Recently many states have passed laws regarding distracted driving. Some states have outlawed cell phone use in the car. At least one state outlawed teenage drivers transporting teen age passengers for the first 6 months they drive. We all understand why, distracted driving leads to mistakes. Yet we see drivers talking on the phone, eating an egg McMuffin, and shaving as they pass you on the freeway! Multi-tasking diminishes the attention we pay to each task, while it compounds the opportunity for mistakes. Time is wasted ramping back to a task. It does not work. Instead of multi-tasking, defined as attempting two or more activities simultaneously, work on one activity at a time. Either complete the activity or schedule time to continue working on the project before moving to the next project. Concentrate on one activity at a time.

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