People don't just sit around thinking they'd like to do something

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It is not the skills we actually have that determine how we feel but the ones we think we have.
So if you think you're good at something, whether or not you are, you'll do it.
If you think you aren't good enough at something, you won't do it.


Rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, losing time in the process.You might think you’re different.That you’ve done it so much you’ve become good at it.Practice makes perfect and all that.The research shows that heavy multitaskers are less competent at it than light multitaskers.In other words, in contrast to almost everything else in your life, the more you multitask, the worse you are at it.Practice, in this rare case, works against you.So I decided to experiment for a week.I wanted to see what happened, which techniques helped, and whether I could sustain it.For the most part, I succeeded.When I was on the phone, all I did was the phone.In a meeting, I did nothing but focus on the meeting.First, it was delightful.I noticed this most dramatically when I was with my children.I shut my cell phone off and found myself much more deeply engaged and present with them.I never realized how significantly a short moment of checking my email disengaged me from the people and things right there in front of me.Second, I made significant progress on challenging projects.The kind that require thought and persistence.The kind I usually try to distract myself from, like writing or strategizing.Since I refused to allow myself to get distracted, I stayed with them when they got hard, and experienced a number of breakthroughs.Third, my stress level dropped dramatically.The research shows that multitasking isn’t just inefficient, it’s also stressful.And I found that to be true.It was a relief to do one thing at a time.I felt liberated from the strain of keeping so many balls in the air at each moment.It felt reassuring to finish one thing before going to the next.Fourth, I lost all patience for things I felt were not a good use of my time.Since I wasn’t doing anything else, I got bored much more quickly.I had no tolerance for wasted time.Fifth, I had tremendous patience for things I felt were useful and enjoyable.When I listened to Eleanor, I was in no rush.When I was brainstorming a difficult problem, I stuck with it.Nothing else was competing for my attention, so I was able to settle into the one thing I was doing.Sixth, and perhaps most important, there was no downside.Nothing was lost by not multitasking.No projects were left unfinished.No one became frustrated with me for not answering a call or failing to return an email the second I received it.Which is why it’s surprising that multitasking is so hard to resist.If there’s no downside to stopping, why don’t we all just stop?I think it’s because our minds move considerably faster than the outside world.You can hear far more words a minute than someone else can speak.We have so much to do, why waste any time?What we neglect to realize is that we’re already using that brainpower to pick up nuance, think about what we’re hearing, access our creativity, and stay connected to what’s happening around us.What we neglect to realize is that it’s not extra brainpower.It may be imperceptible, but it’s all being used, right then and there, in the moment.And diverting it has negative consequences.So how do we resist the temptation to multitask?The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off.I’ll disconnect my computer from its wireless connection, and I’ll turn my phone off.In my car, I’ll leave my phone in the trunk.But most of us shouldn’t trust ourselves.Use your loss of patience to your advantage.Create unrealistically short deadlines.Cut all meetings in half.Because there’s nothing like a deadline to keep things moving.And when things are moving fast, we can’t help but focus on them.How many people run a race while texting?If you truly have only thirty minutes to finish that presentation you thought would take an hour, are you really going to answer that call?In other words, giving yourself less time to do things could make you more productive and more relaxed.Finally, it’s good to remember that we’re not perfect.Every once in a while, it might be okay to allow for a little multitasking.I’m writing this sentence on the left side of my computer screen

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