Saturday, October 9, 2010

Multi-tasking Projects, Time Management and The Invisible Gorilla - What Are You Missing?

In this recent post, I posted some videos and links to The Invisible Gorilla. And while the site features a number of interesting videos that highlight what we see and what we don't, since watching those videos I've found myself reflecting back on them quite a bit.

One aspect of the Invisible Gorilla tests that I think may be a bit understated is the way that the test engages your brain with deeper thought processes. I suspect that when the test gets you to count, your brain shifts gears from basic experiential observation into a more conceptual, internally focused mental process. While counting is probably one of the simpler functions like this, anyone who has found themselves lost in thought for extended moments in time has undergone a similar brain-processing experience. It's a little bit frightening if you've ever experienced it while driving.

While it's easy to connect this concept to the point of "why you missed all of these little details" that were going on around you, what I think get's lost is sort of the reverse side of the equation. If you create an environment where you expect someone to keep up with little details, they are never going to be able to lock in and engage in the deep thinking tasks. You'll never get an accurate count if you're watching for detail changes. And if you're expecting creativity, analysis, or complex code, you need to create an environment that frees your processing engine from these types of distractions.

In today's modern business environment, creating that kind of environment can be difficult. Most businesses attempt to minimize G&A expenses, so that usually means fewer resources to offload administrative tasks on or to route interrupts through. As we've democratized tools for managing our own activities, we've added interruption outlets. Finding ways to mitigate these distractions is a real management challenge.

It's also worth noting that as a creative manager, if you're dealing with management and administrative issues, it's probably going to be difficult for you to mentally shift gears and visualize complex creative or code interconnects. Instead of attempting to jump from complex analysis of one project into the other, consider some strategies to help you mentally shift gears into the type of mental processing that you need for the task at hand. Sometimes, this can be as simple as taking a moment to "refresh my memory on this" and reviewing the entire issue before responding or making a decision.

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