Unify Blog

(OK, I slipped again on my “post to this blog everyday” resolution, but I had to finish up some research for the next few days of posts, and I hope you find these posts entertaining and challenging, and you can forgive me for slipping a couple days last week!)

Multi-tasking….ok, so, we all do it.  And we think we are excellent at it.  As part of Unify’s focus on the humanity of collaboration I am going to spend the next few posts talking about multi-tasking.  And I guarantee most of you will not like it.

Let’s start with some work done by Judy Wajcman referenced in her book “Pressed for Time”. (based on a study done in 2011 in Sydney Australia – by the author of the Pressed for Time book).  A “work episode” is an activity where a knowledge worker would participate.  It could be a meeting, a call, working on a spreadsheet, getting a cup of coffee.  The average knowledge worker in this study had EIGHTY-EIGHT (88) work episodes a day! 90% of these last for 10 minutes or less. The average duration of a work episode is 3 minutes. If you split interactions into “face to face” and “mediated” (ie email, telephone calls) – over half our interactions are “mediated”.  On average mediated forms last less than 5 minutes.  When half your day is spent in email and new technologies, then you cannot call these activities interruptions anymore.  To many of us, these are examples of us multi-tasking. (I am sure you don’t believe the 88 work episodes number, but it makes sense if you think about it, switching from call, to meeting, to email, to a presentation you are preparing, to getting a cup of coffee.  They add up).  We may rationalize to ourselves that we are “multi-tasking” and “I can do this”, but as I will discuss in a post tomorrow, the brain physically does not multi-task the way most of us think it does.  More on that tomorrow.

For today, as you might imagine, being able to stay focused for more than 5 minutes on a particular task can only increase the productivity of our work. But how do we do this?  The reality is, this is “work”.  Our concept of New Way to Work (#NW2W) exactly encompasses these issues. Our goal with #Circuit  is premised on the idea that we needed a new work paradigm to begin to more effectively address the 88 “work episodes” or “interruptions” or “multi-tasking opportunities”.  This had to be a paradigm that was more natural. It has to be multi-modal, ie every form of communication in one place (voice, video, text, presentations, etc.). It has to be mobile, working across any device.  So, we built Circuit, new from the ground up, and these 88 work episodes is part of the reason why #Circuit is built around the concept of conversations.  Each work episode is a conversation.  But, if you are having 88 conversations a day, your ability to organize, retain, and build on every conversation can be challenging.  Especially if some are in email, some are on the phone, some are in a presentation, some are video calls, etc…#Circuit is designed specifically to help the knowledge worker in managing those conversations, keeping every one of them organized centrally, on a single pane of glass, while never losing the material associated with that specific conversation.  The conversation could be with 1 person or 100 people, the goal of #Circuit is to manage all 88 of these every day.  “Work” has changed in significant ways.  Technologies like #Circuit have to enable the New Way 2 Work (#NW2W) as work evolves.  Work can’t be held back because the tools don’t recognize the situation anymore.

Tomorrow, I will take the above data and enhance it with details regarding how our brain actually does “multi-tasking”.  This was humbling for me, a real multi-tasker.  I hope you come back tomorrow.

To wet your appetite in the meantime why not listen to this introduction to the Pressed for Time by Judy Wajcman herself http://youtu.be/uR1xDyh2oXY?t=5m9s 

I look forward to the conversation.

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Posted in CMO Blog, Executive Blogs, New Way To Work
One comment on “Your brain doesn’t multi-task the way you think it does!
  1. Yolanda del Moral says:

    It is really very interesting the conversation about multitasking, the pressure of time, productivity, efficiency and all these issues. Of course I will be reading you tomorrow! #NW2W