My colleague Lisa B. Jasper recently wrote a blog about how we are so often distracted in "this day in age" when trying to get work done. You can read her blog here: Just Step Away From The Computer. I'll let you in on a little secret. The "colleague" she was referring to was me! We talked about how email can be so distracting because it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you are trying to do something else and are "blocked" from completing the task.
I confessed to her about how I see the email pop-up come up on my screen and I feel obligated to go and read it immediately. We got off the phone and I decided that I needed to turn off my Wireless connection when I needed to get something done. That way, I wouldn't be distracted by email. I tried it out on a project shortly after that conversation and it worked! I completed the task and THEN turned my email back on. Brilliant. I was thinking about how I was just the victim of "this day in age" and I needed to adjust my work habits.
However, I've been seeing this "need" of mine in a completely different way in light of recent events. I'm preparing for a Myers-Briggs workshop on Monday where I'll be introducing Type to a team of 20 executives. In preparation for this workshop my mind has clearly been on Type and what it means to be an Extravert or a Feeling decider. If you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs, then you know what I'm talking about. If you are not familiar with it, you can get a good description of it here: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
I have been forced to examine my own preference for the P function lately. The four type letters are way more complicated than I can get into here (and have a lot of depth and dimension to them when you are familiar with the facets of each), but generally speaking, Js like to plan things, they make lists and check them off and like to accomplish their goals. Ps (like myself) generally prefer to put off making important decisions, they like to keep their options open, and function more in a stream of consciousness way (this is over generalizing, of course, but there it is). Ps may accomplish the same task as Js, but might make several side trips along the way (if you haven't seen Hile Rutledge's example of a J vs. P cleaning a closet it is a great example and hilarious).
Here's what I'm realizing: I CAN'T HELP IT! I am easily distracted. Not just when trying to get something done for work, but even during every day normal activities. Without going into detail, this morning I was about to do X, and got distracted by Y. I went to do Y when I saw Z sitting in front of it so I took care of Z only to find AB and remembered that I hadn't taken care of it and needed to. So I took care of AB. With nothing else apparently distracting me at that point I thought, "did I ever do X?" I couldn't remember. I went back to the original room where X was located and realized I hadn't. I honestly thought to myself, "Why didn't I do this?" And then remembered the sequence of events that took place. I laughed out loud. I HAD to laugh. Total P moment. This happens to me ALL THE TIME. If you were to ask my colleague Lisa B. Jasper how often this has happened to her I bet you would get a very different response. She's a J. It's not that she can't get distracted, she does. But I bet it bothers her a lot more than it bothers me when it happens (and I bet it doesn't happen nearly as often).
I have a little caveat here. I DO like to make lists and I don't like to be distracted when in the middle of a statistical analysis or when doing anything with numbers. It throws me off and I have to start over again. I DO test Methodical as a facet of P (this is out-of-preference and generally a J function) which basically means I DO like to be efficient so as to have more free time for other things. So while I know that it really isn't as Black and White as I made it sound (J vs. P), I'm still left wondering:
...are Ps better equipped to handle "this day in age?"
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