I spent the first decade of my working life as a journalist, most of that with The Wall Street Journal. As an editor responsible for keeping WSJ.com updated with the best and most relevant content, I kept tabs on all the news I possibly could. That meant frequent contact with our bureaus around the world, a few computer monitors, a full Tweetdeck, a bank of TVs set to the major news networks or sometimes cartoons, daily news meetings, our own site’s live metrics…
It dawned on me the other night. One thing I really love about my new job at CB Insights is that I get to deep dive in one subject area: private company data.
It’s a big change from constantly jumping from central bank meetings to elections and everything in between, not to mention launching new websites and running a team.
I’ve slowly come to notice a pattern in what makes me less productive: trying to move to a new task before the original one is finished. It’s futile to try to focus on more than one thing at a time. How does that add up for a digital editor charged with keeping tabs on every major news event throughout the day?
One answer is teamwork. I worked with the most generous, intelligent and talented group of people in the business.
Another answer is focus.
To put it another way, multitasking is impossible. Even though you’re probably reading this (hey, thanks!) while thinking about lunch or eavesdropping on someone’s obnoxious train conversation, your brain can only process one of those thoughts at a time.
I want to embrace that fact. There are many strategies for processing large amounts of disparate information. I use boxes. If a distraction pops up that would take me away from the task at hand, I put it in a figurative box in my mind and set it on a shelf.
It’s a strategy I’ve learned from friends and mentors to help manage personal as well as professional matters.
The impetus for starting this blog–something I’ve had on my massive to-do list for years–is three-pronged. First, I offered to start a blog back and forth with Peter Boyce, and want to deliver! Second, I want to be more focused. Third, I want to share my love of writing with others.
I come up with ideas for blog posts every day. How many of those have I written and published in the past year? *Ahem* zero.
I plan to write about a few areas of personal interest, which will probably morph over time: storytelling, sports & outdoors, travel and technology.
My goal is to blog regularly as a means to improve my productivity in work and play. If you’d like to join our blog tag-team, drop me a line in the comments or shout at me on twitter.
Thanks for reading!