When Mid-20th Century Dagwood Bumstead, the symbol of the head of family, made his mad dash to the bus stop each day to go to work at Mr. Dither’s construction company, quantum physics hadn’t been discovered yet.
The weird idea that a physical entity could literally be in two places at one time bothered Albert Einstein and would have utterly baffled Dagwood.
Truth be told, Dagwood could barely handle being in one place at one time. Today one thing’s ability to be in two places at one time will once again revolutionize computing.
But what about me? Can I be in two places at one time?
Not yet, at least physically. I can’t literally be in two places at one time and I can’t do two things at once.
There was a huge controversy in the 90’s about multitasking, and there have been several finger wagging articles declaring you’ll lose you mind and go blind if you try to multi-task.
The truth is that although you can’t truly do back-flips and the backstroke at the same time, you can do something better.
You can initiate processes independent of yourself which can give you the capability of doing a half-dozen things at the same time.
Optimizing your time–getting the maximum amount out of every moment–is your competitive edge. You can add to your productivity enormously by setting in motion independent actions that continue while you’re doing several other things.
A simple illustration is that I was listening to a podcast of the Harvard Ideacast and was hearing an interview by John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods. I knew little about him so while I was listening to him I read his bio on Wikipedia
I liked the interview, was impressed by his concept, and ordered his book at amazon.com. I checked my email and answered one of our team members about an upcoming issue of our website as I was walking to the kitchen to heat my coffee in the microwave, put on a load of wash, and start the dishwasher.
Multi-tasking in the sense of doing sometime that requires a multi-tract brain is a physical impossibility for the human beings I know–but developing the capability of setting processes in motion through multiple people and technologies is the key to becoming personally competitive where we compete with both technologies and other human beings.