We’re going to do an experiment.  Hold out your arm in front of you (like you’re hitchhiking) and stare at your thumb.  Really look at all of the nuances of your finger…your nail, fake nail, knuckle, etc.  Now, while you are staring intensely at your thumb, read the following statement:

A University of London study done for Hewlett-Packard found that “infomania” — a term connected with addiction to email and texting — can lower your IQ by twice as much as smoking marijuana. 

Yes, you read correctly.  Navigating the daily barrage of emails, voice mails, text messages and interruptions is literally making us stupid.  While we would like to think we can multi-task, the sad truth is that it is impossible.  You used 40% of your mental energy to stare at your finger and 40% trying to read the statement. That means 20% of your focus was lost trying to shift back and forth between the two.

We are tired, and we are stressed. 

  • According to the American Academy of Physicians, 2/3 of all office visits to family physicians are due to stress-related symptoms.
  • Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.  (“The Stress Solution: An Action Plan to Manage the Stress in Your Life,” Lyle H. Miller, PhD and Alma Dell Smith PhD)
  • A sleep study at Harvard Medical School (October 2006) found that when you go without sleep for 24 hours or you only sleep four or five hours per night in a week that you become impaired at the level equivalent to someone with a blood alcohol content of .1%; the legal limit or over to drive in most states.

The amount of things on our “to do list” is not about to decrease any time soon, so how do we deal with the daily overload of stress, information, tasks and responsibilities?  Here are 7 tips discussed in our Managing Multiple Priorities session to help get you started:

1.  Remember your priorities.  When it’s our time to go, no one is going to give a eulogy that says, “Ah, remember Anne, she was a great multi-tasker”.  In the last few months, I have learned of three people who have passed away unexpectedly, all under the age of 45.  Let’s face it, we aren’t getting any younger.  Focus on what is important.

2. Think like a laser, not a shotgun.  Determine one or two things that absolutely have to get done each day and do those first.  Set realistic expectations and focus on High Payoff Activities.  Don’t forget to set S.M.A.R.T. goals as well.

3. Give yourself a break.  It is impossible to go 150 mph all day, every day.  We need down time to think, breathe and just be.  Trust me, as a working mom with two kids, one with special needs, I know what it’s like to run on empty.  If we don’t take time to recharge, we are not doing anyone a whole lot of good, especially ourselves. All you can do is all you can do.  We can’t be everything to everyone, so give yourself permission to take a break.

4. Remember the slight edge.  The changes you make don’t have to be drastic in order to get big results.  Make minor adjustments in the way you live and work each day and be consistent.

5. Take care of you.  Do the best you can to eat well, get enough sleep and exercise, even if it is just a few minutes a day.  You wouldn’t want a doctor to operate on you with dull instruments.  Our mind and body are the only instruments we have.  We must keep them sharp.

6. Be where you are when you’re there.  We’ve just learned multi-tasking doesn’t work.  Continuing to try to make it work is an exercise in futility.

7. LAUGH!  Multiple studies have shown that laughter relaxes the body, relieves physical tension and stress, boosts the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins, and actually helps your heart.  Whether it is watching a funny movie, going to a comedy club or sharing a funny story, laughter is great medicine.  Here, I’ll get you started:  Times New Roman and Arial walk into a bar and order a drink.  The bartender says, “We don’t serve your type.”  Come on, that gets huge laughs at the font convention!


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