Focus or Multitask?

I went back to high school this morning.  Not to make up those missing detentions, but for mock interviews for seniors.  It was a fun and interesting way of giving back to my community.  I met some talented young people and had some interesting discussions.

One of those discussion was is multitasking a strength or a weakness.  I had told the counselor who set up the interviews that one of the people I interviewed talked about her ability to multitask as a strength.  I told the student to be careful about saying multitasking is a strength, because to me, the ability to focus on one thing at a time, despite interruptions, is a much more valuable tool.  In my world, I want someone who has the ability to block out distractions and completely focus on solving one problem at a time.  I want it done one time- quickly, efficiently, and correctly.

We live in a culture that constantly bombards us with attention grabbing stimuli.  Just from our phones we have hundreds of options.  One sound means a Facebook post got liked.  Twitter has a bing.  Dong, there goes Pintrest.  A text.  An instant message.  Snapchat.  All have different songs for us to instantly categorize and pigeon hole without even looking.  Different ringtones for different people.  Customers walk through the door, phone rings, strange noises from the plant that should be investigated.

Is it multitasking?  Or distracting?  Pay attention to your productivity and ability to get done what is most important before bragging that you can multitask.

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