In his article titled Solitude and Leadership, William Deresiewicz describes thinking as, “concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it.” Deresiewicz goes on to say, “Not learning other people’s ideas or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas.”
Many people claim to be masters of multitasking – the ability to do many things at once. Researchers look at multitasking very differently than those who purport to have mastered it. Researcher clearly shows that multitasking is a fallacy; it distracts us from deep thinking. The more we multitask, the more cluttered our minds become. For many of us in leadership, this is a tough pill to swallow because we are constantly juggling multiple tasks at the same time.
There is a substantive difference between purposefully managing multiple tasks and our default responses to multitasking. By default we make decisions without much cognitive engagement . . . generally speaking when multitasking we simply respond without much thought. On the other hand, when we deal with multiple tasks independently, when we press pause and get our mind right first, we take the time to think. We take the important time to develop an idea about the response required of us.
Our instant information world – the immediacy of everything we face from minute to minute – has changed expectations. As leaders, it is imperative that we intentionally take the time to concentrate on each task long enough to develop an idea about it. Of course, there are predictable events that we encounter on a daily basis. Our preparation for these events, our experiences, all help shape the speed and course with which we respond. Nevertheless, we must be discipline-driven in our thinking. We must fight each and every day against default-driven, below the line responses.