TIPS: Multi-tasking and Handling Interruptions

Tips & Trivia| No Comments »

Multi-Tasking and Handling Interruptions
by Career Strategist and Life Coach, Laurie Sheppard

It is no longer a question whether or not to multitask, but how we can do it without dropping a beat. We are constantly connected to multiple forms of stimulus and available for interruptions. 

We take our laptops on business and personal trips. Wireless systems everywhere make it easy to connect for emails or to call someone on Internet-based phone sites. Social network sites have escalated to billion dollar businesses. We carry cell phones that ring annoyingly in public places or vibrate in our pockets till we’re pulled away from who or what we already elected to focus on, to have a loud sidebar with someone else on the phone. Public cell phone users expose us to the intimate details of their life while we walk past them in post offices and cleaners, or worse yet, as we stand next to them in waiting lines. Text messaging abounds, while its shortcut language further separates communication between the younger and older generations – but perhaps not for long. I saw a middle-aged woman last weekend at a play who was constantly pulling her phone out to text message, until an usher spotted the bright light from it and told her to kindly put it away.

Our downtime, the little we had staked out for ourselves, is being eaten up by the constant demands of others and our own urge to stay connected to everyone and everything at all times. Has communication become more important now, or is it the fascination with our toys and machinery that lure us to use them?

Considering Americans are relatively new to many of these products, it’s possible we’re still in an early fascination phase. That’s what Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University and author of "Always On:  Language in an Online and Mobile World," says is the case. She looks at how technology influences our learning and behaviors. Baron said, "My hope is that Americans are only going through a phase of feeling they must be ‘always on’ and that over time, we will regain a more balanced sense of communicative equilibrium."

Even watch alarms or other time-reminding alerts can negatively grab and redirect our attention, particularly when we were focused on something of importance.  We all know what it’s like to be in a discussion with someone and be interrupted, then come back to the conversation and realize we forgot what we were talking about. Paul Schutte, of Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, wrote "Assessing the Effects of Momentary Priming on Memory Retention During an Interference Task" for NASA. The discussion of memory aids and how to better prime the mind for effective mental recall. Download the PDF here.

1.  If you like to be plugged in and multitask, find ways to sharpen your memory that will otherwise become less sharp with constant interruptions.   

2.  Pay more attention to social courtesies and ask yourself whether or not it’s kind to others that you hold that outside conversation now. 

3.  Decide whether or not you want to be subject to constant connection through technology’s stimulus rather than be right where you are, with whom you’re with, or maybe enjoying your quietude. 

I think we’re missing the comfort that emptiness can provide and the insights and learning that come from still reflection and being "offline." What about you? Do you leave yourself open to constant external connections?

CREATING AT WILL: Best Second Careers for Women
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Sheryl Roush presents “Star Trek and Toastmasters: Parallel Universe”

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Sheryl Roush presents "Star Trek and Toastmasters: Parallel Universe"

Saturday, June 7, 2008, professional speaker Sheryl Roush presented a most unique program to a full house at the western Regional Conference of Toastmasters International, at the Anaheim DoubleTree Hotel. With her 60-minute program entitled "TO BOLDLY GO," Sheryl addressed the "Parallel Universe" between the creation and philosophies of both Star Trek and Toastmasters International.

The first three minutes of the slide program–set to theme songs from Star Trek–sited historical references to John F. Kennedy’s challenge to place a man on the moon, starting with black and white images, building to color images from the space station and Hubble photographs of cosmos, into Star Trek: The Original Series, complete with black-and-white photos of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the bridge crew. Slide sequences followed in color, highlighting Star Trek: The Next Generation; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Star Trek: Voyager; and Star Trek: Enterprise.

Both "visionaries" were spotlighted and paralleled: Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, founder of Toastmasters International, the world’s largest non-profit educational organization; and Gene Roddenberry, creator of the globally recognized science fiction, blockbuster movies, and Starfleet Academy.

Both popular in culture, philosophies, mission, vision, peace-seeking movement and enlightenment, Toastmasters has served 4 million people in 93 countries since 1924… Star Trek, countless millions "believers," with 46 million website references.

Both "movements" are dedicated to the advancement of mankind, through communication and leadership, as Ms. Roush highlighted these parallels including their top three leadership positions, officer insignias, organizational structure, and the chain of command.

Roush paralleled Roddenberry’s early Star Trek "Communicator" with today’s flip-open cellphone, as well as the "Tricorder" device to today’s iPhone technology. She stated that unlike most "science fiction," Star Trek and Roddenberry’s ideas were "science fact" that were either medically or scientifically proven–or could be–created. True enough. "Phaser pistols" became today’s laser technology.

Medical tricorders have been created. Worm hole theory proven. Voice-activated computers and translation technology are now actively in use. Roddenberry actively consulted with NASA, the Armed Forces, and the medical professions.

As a global movement for better listening, thinking and speaking skills, Toastmasters just chartered a new Club in Iraq in May, proving "peaceful resolution."

And just so you know how powerful the Toastmasters program is, Eugene W. Roddenberry III, "Rod" joined Club in San Diego, California. "Star Trek presents us with a possible future where we as a species have outgrown our old-world beliefs and insecurities. Having seen the beauty in our uniqueness and diversity, we will have found the commonality that binds us all. In this possible future, we will come together as a species and work for the betterment of all life. I believe knowledge is the key to this future and we must continually challenge ourselves by questioning what we know and reaching into the unknown. Toastmasters allows me to challenge myself and for that, I am grateful."

As with Toastmasters, Gene’s work also continues, and the legacy lives on. Rod is directing "Trek Nation" a documentary tribute about Trekkees, Trekkers and the life of his father.

Even if you are "not into" Toastmasters or Star Trek, just remember this…
"Resistance IS futile. You will be assimilated!"

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