Monday, February 09, 2009

Multitasking vs. Focus & A Lesson in Cash Flow

If you are busy (like everyone these days) and trying to improve your life, you have undoubtedly heard about multi-tasking and the need to FOCUS.

You have undoubtedly been told that either multi-tasking is "incredibly evil and will suck the life out of your..." ... well, I should not get too graphic this early in the morning. Or you have heard that multi-tasking "can be the ultimate in efficiency" [if it is done right]. And around every corner, there is always someone offering you ways to "Get R Done" or something like that.
There are also a whole bunch of people who faithly subscribe to the Theory of Constraints (ala "The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement'>The Goal" or "It's Not Luck'">Its Not Luck") and can tell you why multi-tasking does not work... even though their logic does not stop people from continuing to try to do everything at once.
I'm sure you also have heard that FOCUS is the key to making progress towards your most important goals. And, if you are like most people, you probably feel that it makes sense to focus since it brings all of your mental (and perhaps physical) resources to bear on a problem.

I've never felt 100% comfortable with either camp... although I've leaned toward the Focus side on occasion. Having said all that, I had an experience this morning that helped me put Multitasking and Focus into perspective and maybe it could be of interest for you too.

As I often do when I have a spare minute, I was loading some audio CD's into my iTunes this morning and, like every time I do it, the loading process choked my PC's processing speed to a crawl so I was not able to easily perform internet searchs or write blog posts. The difference this morning was that I did not fight the bottleneck.

I knew that the processing of the CD would take about 5-10 minutes so I did not start it until I was done doing other tasks on my computer. Once I started the download, I got up and went to the kitchen to make some breakfast. By the time I was done, the CD had loaded and I was ready to add another one. Once that was going, I took a shower and got dressed for the day. Again, when I came back it was done.

What I realized is that multi-tasking does not work if the tasks have dependent resources. If they use the same resources, then one task will slow down the other one and you won't realize the benefits of completing either task as soon as you would as if you did each one serially.
Of course, if the tasks do not require the same resources, then multi-tasking is easy... but how often does that happen in real life? There is only one of you, right? Or can you figure out a way to get the task done by someone else? WOW, I didn't even think that this train of thought would bring me to the concept of LEVERAGE ... but it did. Cool!

How does that relate to life?
If you are trying to increase your wealth, for example, the CD loading process is like "Passive Cash Flow" from an investment or royalty (books, songs, intellectual property). It comes in while you are doing other things and you don't have to focus on it 100% of the time.

The other parallel to life is that you DO have to focus on the CD to get it started. Same with "Passive Cash Flow"... you have to research and set up your investment(s) so that they produce while you are doing other things. It also makes sense to come back to them occasionally (and focus on them) to make sure they are progressing.

How has this been applied to my life?
To be perfectly honest... I have not applied it as much as I should. I am working on the purchase and renovation of a couple investment properties... but they are not yet at the "Passive Cash Flow" stage. I guess I'm learning that I should put MORE FOCUS on them now so that I can get the money flowing and move on to other things.

What's your experience ?

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