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Missed Single Tasking Day Due to Multi-tasking

EPSON scanner imageToday’s guest post is from our board member John Hollon, VP of Editorial at  If I hadn’t been multi-tasking yesterday, I might have posted this on time.  Read on for some advice on slowing down to get more done.

You know what I like most about February? The President’s Day holiday.

I used to like it even more when I was a kid and we used to get off for both Washington AND Lincoln’s Birthdays, but someone decided at some point that that was one holiday too many.

But, February isn’t just about President’s Day.

It has a lot of those “made up” holidays you are always reading about, like National Wear Red Day and Public Sleeping Day, which I’m sure are simply marketing hooks for some industry segment somewhere.

There is one “made up” holiday this month that does make sense, though – Single Tasking Day.

It’s officially observed this year on Feb. 24, and according to a web page for Single Tasking Day, it’s “the day to do just one thing at a time. In today’s world many multi-task, (and) many have to multi-task in order to accomplish what is needed in a day. Take this day to concentrate and complete one task at a time and don’t feel guilty about it.”

OK, I generally laugh at all the silly “made up” holidays, but this is one I can get behind because although everybody thinks they can multi-task, everyone is pretty terrible at it. In addition, it can damage your health.

I am not making this up. Back in 2014, reported on a Stanford University study  that “found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.”

To put this in layman’s terms, this explains why my order at drive-thru restaurants always seems to get screwed up. It’s because the person taking my order over the squawk box is also trying to deal with customers at the walk-in counter at the same time they’re helping me, and that means they’re juggling two tasks at the same time.

As the Stanford study points out, when that happens, something has to give — and it’s usually my lunch.

As Forbes noted, “While more research is needed to determine if multi-tasking is physically damaging the brain (versus existing brain damage that predisposes people to multi-task), it’s clear that multi-tasking has negative effects. Neuroscientist Kep Kee Loh, the study’s lead author, explained the implications: “I feel that it is important to create an awareness that the way we are interacting with the devices might be changing the way we think and these changes might be occurring at the level of brain structure.”

The article adds:If you’re prone to multitasking, this is not a habit you’ll want to indulge — it clearly slows you down and decreases the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, allowing yourself to multi-task will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization, and attention to detail.”

This explains a lot, like why I feel so confused when I’m trying to juggle multiple tasks, and why I come close to running over so many people in parking lots who are busy doing something on their smart phone while trying to walk somewhere.

By trying to do both, they end up doing both, but very badly.

So, I advise you to embrace Single Tasking Day and know that sometimes, one of those “made up” holidays actually makes some sense. And, if you are going to take Single Tasking Day to heart, do it soon, please, before I run over you doing something on your cell phone in the mall parking lot.



Spreading Workplace Love (for Heart Health)

I love my heartWorkplace love isn’t always a good thing – unless you’re teaching employees how to take care of themselves.  Today’s guest post is courtesy of Wendy Hadley who is a Benefits Specialist here at Kronos.  February is American Heart Month, but Wendy and her team decided to use the occasion to raise awareness of heart health for Kronites around the world.  Read on to learn how they did it.

The Kronos wellness team is always coming up with fun ways to reach Kronites across the world. Having a diverse workforce and remote employees in multiple time zones presents a challenge when executing programs, but it’s something we love to do. February at Kronos is heart health month and we put together a campaign to inform and educate employees about heart disease and improving heart health.  This campaign involved educational webinars led by our in-house wellness coach and a photo contest.

In the early stages of planning, we took into consideration time zone, languages, and the remote population to ensure that we were maximizing our reach. For example, the webinar slide deck was translated into French and the time slots were carefully selected to accommodate our eastern hemisphere Kronites. When designing the photo contest, we tossed around the idea of producing heart-themed backdrops for major offices, but decided we’d be more effective if we focused on activities that could involve both remote and office employees.

February 13 was dubbed Love Your Heart Day and we ran the photo contest through our LiveInspired Facebook page, a page dedicated to wellness at Kronos. To participate in the contest, employees were asked to wear red outfits for heart disease awareness and take a picture of themselves holding a sign that said, “I love my heart.” The individual and group photos that received the most “likes” won a gift card and all participants receive a small prize for being involved. We saw pictures come in from all over the world including India, Canada, the UK, the corporate headquarters in Massachusetts, and many home offices. Our winner, based in the UK, spread the love even further by donating to the British Heart Foundation. We were so inspired by the selflessness, that the wellness team matched the donation.

Throughout the month of February, there is a lot of love in the workplace, love for our hearts, and love for having fun. Employers take note; love your employees, even the ones you don’t see at corporate every day! And with a little planning and attention to detail, anything is possible.

Celebrate World Thinking Day by Thinking Collaboration

world thinking day patchIn today’s post, Workforce Institute board member Ruth Bramson discusses World Thinking Day, a Girl Scouts of America program.  Ruth is the former CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, so this cause is near and dear to her heart.  Each year on February 22, World Thinking Day, girls participate in activities and projects with global themes to honor their sister Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in other countries. World Thinking Day is part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Global Action Theme (GAT) based on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. The underlying theme for this year’s World Thinking Day is that “girls worldwide say ‘we can create peace through partnerships.’”

The Girl Scouts based the 2015 theme on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal to develop a global partnership for development across all countries, rich and poor, working with one another to provide more effective aid, sustainable communities, and an even playing field.

To put it another way: It’s about collaboration.

Having spent six years as CEO of the Girl Scouts in Massachusetts, I learned many lessons from cookie sales to leadership.  This is the organization’s main cause: giving girls the skills and confidence to become leaders.

Yet right now we are wasting so much of the talent out there that this country needs. We must remake leadership prospects for girls within this generation. We must work together to fight the stereotype that it’s okay for women to do “Office Housework,” a disappointing trend described in this recent New York Times article. We must enlist a broad range of companies and individuals to partner up, collaborate, and do this.

It’s about collaboration. It’s about building a welcoming culture.

Every organization owes it to its stakeholders to create partnerships across boundaries.  Whether it’s within our own organization or our industry or our community, it starts with attitudes about gender equity, compensation policies, and work/family attitudes. We must encourage everyone to contribute.

When everyone contributes to the concept of collaboration and an open culture, it sets the stage for a healthy work environment and creates the climate in which businesses are profitable.  It is a powerful force that, when harnessed, tends to feed off itself.  Each of us has a stake in the outcomes.

When companies are welcoming to all employees, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or disabilities, people take great pride in being part of that organization. The net result is escalating levels of employee engagement, productivity, and profitability.  Ultimately, what is good for one is good to all.

Take a hard look at your work environment…is it collaborative and welcoming?  Perhaps now’s a good time to make that (y)our goal.

Relevant Links:

Forbes column: The Secret of Top Performing Companies: More Women On The Board

Fortune article: Study finds a diverse corporate boards rein in risk, good for shareholders