There are many outstanding characteristics associated with fighter pilots: Confidence, Intelligence, Assertiveness, Self-Discipline, Trustworthiness, Decisiveness, Dedication and others. But, the one characteristic that appears only on the list of fighter pilots is multitasking. Notice that I said “only” on the list of fighter pilots.
Many studies have confirmed that the only group of people who are good at multitasking are highly trained and skilled fighter pilots. And it’s not really the skill that makes the difference, it’s the highly-trained component. Through hours of dedicated and focused training, pilots learn to multitask effectively. The rest of us never put in the time, training and effort to become good at multitasking. But that doesn’t seem to stop us from trying.
A recent study by researchers at Stanford attempted to identify why the current generation of college students seemed to be better at multitasking than previous generations. Researchers are thrilled when their studies identify a single prominent reason for their complex research question. This study concluded with one of those Eureka moments.
What is the clear reason for current student’s ability to multitask better? They don’t! They suck at it. They’re actually promoting damaging effects.
The finding: Their ability to multitask diminishes over time. They also lose ground on other abilities. Multitasking leads to stupidity. That’s not what the study concluded but it seems like a logical conclusion to me.
Research seems to be flying at us from all directions to stop the multitasking. It doesn’t help us think. It doesn’t help us be productive. It doesn’t help us keep on top of things. It diminishes our ability to do all those things and more.
Deep work. Times of silence. Shut out the world. Get into deep thought. These are the things that help us be more productive and happier. But these take discipline, grit, determination, resolve.
Are you a fighter pilot? Are you trying to multitask like one? If so, your hurting your chances for success.
Carve out that time. Get away from the activity. Turn off the electronics (or at least stick them under a pillow or in a drawer). Get into some deep thought. If you haven’t thought about it (really thought about it) you’re not allowed to express an opinion. Our world is being buffeted by thoughtless opinions. The more multitasking we do the more thoughtless the opinions. Stop and think.
“Did you stop to think?” was a question I often heard from my parents. As a teenager, I thought that was just the stock response for when I did something stupid. I didn’t realize at the time it was a recipe to avoid being stupid as an adult.
Stop multitasking. Stop to think!