One hat at a time – any more than that is surely a fashion faux pas (!) – but more importantly, in a metaphorical sense, you’re simply not giving the task at hand the attention it deserves.
I currently have “Six Thinking Hats” by Edward de Bono out on loan from the in-house Material library. The book covers de Bono’s concept of parallel thinking which was designed to harness the intelligence and experience of a group, or even an individual, in order to deliver more effective meetings and decision making.
The book breaks down thinking into 6 categories under the idiom of 6 coloured hats, the colours of which are related back to their function.
According to de Bono, confusion is the number one enemy of good thinking and by channelling the mental ability of many people in the same direction, at the same time, a problem can be more easily solved.
He explains, “Aeroplanes coming in to land often fly over car parks. If you tell yourself to notice the yellow cars, then suddenly the yellow cars stand out and make themselves visible. That is an example of sensitisation. You cannot be sensitised in different directions at the same, so when we set out to do all aspects of thinking in the same moment, we are going to be suboptimal on all of them.” De Bono later continues, “Thinking often proceeds as drift and waffle and reaction to what turns up from moment to moment….Suggestions, judgement, criticism, information and plain emotion are all mixed together in a sort of thinking stew.”
The Six Hats method proposes that thoughts are channelled through the following modes
There are a whole host of benefits to using this technique and the principles have already been adopted by businesses and governments around the world to rave reviews.
The Death of Multi-tasking
Whether its thinking or tackling a to-do list, focussing on more than one thing at a time can decrease your productivity by 40%. Research suggests that only 2% of people can multi-task effectively. This was a huge surprise to me. The majority of us are lowering our productivity without even realising it. I always viewed myself as a successful multi-tasker but how can we even judge such a thing? Sure, we can complete that list but did we do it to the best of our ability? Did we get to the end of the list with more or less time on our hands? And more importantly (!) did this blog suffer because I tried to write it at my desk whilst answering phones, taking briefs and catching up with my colleagues on live projects?!
Business coach Dave Crenshaw has explored the phenomenon extensively and writes, “You actually take much longer to accomplish things, make more mistakes and increase your stress.”
Unlike computers, humans can’t simultaneously process multiple activities that demand high levels of attention or cognitive ability. We’re not multi-tasking, we’re simply switching our attention from one thing to another. And that switch takes time; your brain takes a while to switch back into the same gear as it was in before and find the same track it was on before.
Okay, one thing at a time..
1. Prioritise my list for the remainder of the day
2. Dust off the hat stand