And Or…

I have never been very good at multi-tasking. I am OK at doing a specific task and I am reasonably good at planning my time. The end result of this combination is that I can manage to deliver work that is in front of me. But in no way shape or form can I stake a claim for multi-tasking.

I have practised hard at the combination of time management and task completion. Like most skills…practice can definitely improve performance…and as well as getting better at task delivery I have also worked out one or two tactics that help. And the most important? I stay focussed.

In many respects I have found this is the key. There is nothing more disruptive than stopping and restarting. My thinking is disrupted. My logic flow is suspended. Any creativity is stifled.

Some disruptions I never avoid. Anyone who puts their head around my door and asks for a moment always gets my attention. I always answer an email or text or call from certain people…my family…my boss. But that’s about it. Everything else I ignore if I am in task mode. Until I finish. And then I check…and if nothing’s there I pick up my next task and focus again.

I have also worked out which activities I never try to combine. I can’t read email and engage in conversation. I can’t read email and contribute to a teleconference. I can’t read email and participate in a meeting. I can’t read email and drive. I have also found that these combinations can appear disingenuous. Can be dangerous. Or both

On the other hand, there are many examples of activities I can combine. I can walk and read email.  I can work out and listen to music. I can listen and think at the same time. I can combine enjoying myself with working hard. I can align my personal motives and values with my company’s ambition and goals.

Most multinational companies – most companies that work in different countries across the globe – will declare an interest in multi-tasking. They may not use that expression; but they will undoubtedly talk about a desire to combine local success and global success. To have individual unit success and unified organisation success.

This may sound obvious but it is both true and not often that easy to achieve. We all work in specific locations. We all live in certain countries. We all have colleagues and friends who work where we work. Our location can feel like our affiliation. And this can lead to a natural desire to ensure work we do – where we are based – is successful as possible.

And the same applies to our specific discipline or skill set. We have a natural affinity for colleagues who have the same training, expertise or experience as us – we talk the same language as each other irrespective of which country we work in. We align through our disciplines and we frequently seek success within our discipline.

The good news is that success in both of these dimensions is good. Good provided success locally and success globally are both achieved. Good provided success within a specific skill set and success across all skill sets are both achieved. It is always an ‘and’ and never an ‘or’. We look to combine. We want to multi-task.

Even better news is that whenever I have seen or felt success across locations or skill sets it looks so good and feels so much better. Working in partnership across locations or with colleagues from different disciplines is exciting and engaging…it allows for learning and enables growth.

And it’s fun!




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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2 Responses to And Or…

  1. John Bennett says:


    NIce blog – have you read ‘ Thinking Fast and and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman – I think you’ll find it very interesting and entertaining. It provides fascinating insights to how we think and act and I thinks very relevent to your thoughts above.



    • Steve Street says:


      Many thanks – I have seen Kahneman’s book but hadn’t gone for it…but think I will do now based on your note. I’ll let you know how I get on.



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