Recently I read an article on how multitasking “can make you less productive”. While I agree on one level – depending on your ability to focus in a perfect world, I wonder how one can work in social media and not multi-task? The diverse number of tools alone presents a challange. Some are better at one thing than others – as anyone who works with software knows. In the past one might have settled for a single programme and simply make due but today, in social media, with the increasing number of free tools or low monthly access fees – one can use a number of different tools for their particular strengths and may even use two that overlap while being on the lookout for an even better solution.
As a content curator I review daily lots of blogs and articles on diverse topics while posting some and scheduling others, juggling different tools, different processes and different accounts. Even the task of logging in and out of multiple accounts can become a distraction to the single purpose of putting the good info that I find in one place for scheduling. This pressure is increased when technical gliches arise and a plan B is needed to actually deliver the goods on a deadline. This happened this morning, in fact, when Tweetdeck, a good social media tool for certain things, decided to stop working for some mysterious reason on my laptop. It is at that moment that I was glad that I had options and could open yet another another window on my browser, launch another tool and try another way to get my work done. While doing that I was trying to find the tek support email for tweetdeck and create a trouble ticket. Surprise — there is no direct support as this is now owned by Twitter and god knows they are buzy enough with that service, so I was forced to read through forums instead. It was then that I noticed that they finally got the ipad version done – since Twitter is in control and funds are flowing for more development so I downloaded that on my ipad. Of course the interface is different which means I had to spend time figuring that out the set up as well. This is what can happen on a bad day…even more multi tasking!
On a really good day when all the technical stuff is working the task of looking at lots of diverse content for various clients can lead to great mental connections with a new spin or insight on something that is already known, creating a piece that is really engaging – which of course is my main task. Making a new connection between two different pieces of information is a nice payback on what I think of as high speed multitasking – when the task at hand is to simply find a good piece content not just for one client but rather to find two good pieces that have a common ground for that particular client and for my other clients as well! Rinse and repeat daily.
In my 20’s I spent years working in restaurants – learning the about food and hospitality. It was in this environment that I first learnt to multitask. I would venture to say that a good Chef working in a busy kitchen is a master multi-tasker as is a top waitress juggling lots of tables and their orders.
I think it was McLuhan who first alerted us to the fact that in the electronic age information continues to move faster and faster. There is no stopping it except by pulling the plug and Who is about to do that unless we are forced to do so? Recently I went through a move and experienced several bouts of downtime. It was an incredibly slow and painful experience. Sure, I recognize life/work balance and took time over the summer to disconnect and be offline. Even then it was my choice to learn to draw on the ipad, starting with my finger as I had no stylus while learning the interface as I tried clumsily to capture my subject before it disappeared or moved away. Multi tasking? Hell yes!
As Bill Gates said some years ago doing “Business at the Speed of Thought” is where we have arrived as a culture, whether we like it or not. To me this is exactly what social media allows us to do. After all we are trying to connect to the potential customer in real time, engage them in conversation and offer them great customer service should they want it. This is a juggling act for sure!