Listening to an audiobook by Joseph Murphy this morning and heard this gem. For those of you who do not know who he is, allow me to enlighten you. Joseph Murphy is the author of the book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. (among many others) It is one of the 3 things I give people when they are looking to turn their life around. Definitely in my top 5 books. This was another one of his books, but I think it is a powerful story that drives home a very important point.
In my second book, Living the Dream, I devote a whole section on the importance of having a life mission statement. If you would like to know more about that, I invite you to check out that book for that, and many other life-changing tools and strategies. One thing that I hear a lot at seminars and book signings is “I am not too good at being a multi-tasker.” I assure people that is a good thing. The human mind was designed to focus on one task at a time. When we busy our selves with trying to do many things at once, we end up doing many things half-ass, if you will excuse the language. It would serve us far better if we were to take one task at a time, focus on and complete it, and then move on to the next. It also usually ends up taking less time as well. Why do you think the most efficient manner of getting large projects done is an assembly line?
Many people have a hard time grasping or believing this as we have been fed the ‘multi-tasking lie’ for far too long. The story Dr. Murphy shares in his book is a great example. I will give you the abridged version here. A man hails a taxi cab. Climbs in and tells the cabby he wants to go to the airport. About 5 minutes into the drive he asks to be taken back home because he forgot his passport. Cabby turns around and takes him there. Back on the way to the airport he stops him again. “Can we stop at my work? I forgot my wallet.” he says. So, the cabby again turns around. Leaving his work, the cab driver asks him if he is sure he is ready to go to the airport. “Oh yes.” the man replies. No sooner do they start off, the man stops him again. “Can we stop and see my mother? I forgot to tell her goodbye.” Cab driver checks the meter and again turns around. Hopping back in the cab after his mother’s house, the man proceeds to give the cab driver multiple other locations to go to. Finally, the cab driver drops him off at the police station because he realizes he is insane.
This may seem like an amusing and comical story, but it is exactly what we do to our brain when we do not have a clear goal or purpose. If we attempt to do too many things at once, we are like the man in the cab. We are giving our brains multiple locations to travel to at the same time. The brain works best when it does not have to switch focus again and again. There was a study done that stated it takes the average person 23 minutes to get into a zone with a project they are working on. What do you think happens when we are switching things up every ten minutes? The brain is like the cab driver who thought, “I am going to drop this man off at the police station. He is insane.” Terrible thing when your own brain thinks you are insane. If you want to complete multiple tasks, it is better to focus on one and do it to the best of our ability and then move on to the next. They will get done quicker and with better quality. Same with an overall purpose in your life.