Less is moo: a H.A.C.K. to purge the urge to multi-task

...(and what managers can do about it).

Behavioral hacks, or should we say H.A.C.K.s, are our special sauce. In this post, we give you a peek at how they feature in our work.

Once in a while, he – or she – will crop up in a workshop or boot camp, going through the motions, but actually tuned in to some other business on their phones.

Index fingers doing a surreptitious scroll; tap-tapping as discretely as they can.

Sometimes – admittedly, this is rarer – brazenly typing a message with two thumbs, or, more awkwardly, one, all while apparently ‘engaged’.

They don’t realize they’ve been clocked instantly, as we are always scanning our professionals’ levels of focus, energy and motivation, to maintain connection.

Maybe they imagine they’re invisible. Or maybe they’re just ‘multi-tasking’, splitting their attention between the training and some other task.

If it’s the second, then let’s hit pause.

The beef with multi-tasking

Number one: multi-tasking kills engagement. Number two: multi-tasking kills productivity.

(If you’re curious about the neuroscience, we recommend Deep Work by Cal Newport.)

Needless to say, we have a H.A.C.K for such times, deployed with special relish by Taz, our no-holds-barred coach who also happens to be a stand-up comic. He calls it: the Blue Cow.

He’ll approach the individual engrossed in their smart device, while continuing to engage the rest of the attendees normally. Then, when he’s close enough, he’ll address the individual directly with a nonsensical sentence that includes the words ‘Blue Cow’.

Invariably, the other participants laugh, the busted (re-engaged) ‘multi-tasker’ squirms. And other would-be scroller/typers are dissuaded from letting their attention wander.

Every time a participant falls into phone mode, the ‘Blue Cow’ resurfaces. Eventually, it becomes a running joke with the cohort, and a byword for ‘pay attention’.

multi-task multi-tasking multi-tasker

Milk the H.A.C.K.s

Moral? DON’T multi-task. DO use H.A.C.K.s to optimize your workplace interactions.

We draw on a whole library of them in our trainings. Some, like the Blue Cow, are silly, some simple, some sophisticated. ALL of them are tried-and-tested and super effective.

In fact, we packed a whole bunch of them into our new fast-paced, self-directed Smart Course, Dealing with People.

More on the Course’s origin story in our next post.