Tina is a typical working person with a loaded plate which has a number of things eating up the 24 hours in each day with hardly time to even get a peaceful and restful sleep time. Her mind, constantly working on things to do, decisions to make, balancing the family needs with work pressure. Being a parent, spouse, daughter, friend and any other role we all play in our lives. What happens most times is a burn out! And yet the individual goes on with the load to meet commitments and feel useful, fulfilled and successful.
Tina did sign up for coaching because she was comfortable talking to someone who seemed to “listen” and even “understand” where she was coming from.
Others around her happened to be empathizing and even sympathizing (like her parents) with her but did not seem to have any answers to literally help her out of this over whelming feeling of being just bogged down with all the demands. She often wondered if some of the people including her husband did really listen to her!
The answer for many in such situation is the wonderful skill of multitasking. Many very successful people take huge pride in being masters in multitasking. However, the scientific community is studying this aspect of human capability and behavior with renewed energy and more insight. Human brain is simply not coded for multi tasking, is what the findings say so far. The term borrowed from the computer language apparently does not apply to the human brain it looks like (until proven otherwise with sufficient data and facts to be written as an absolute truth). So what does an individual go through when s/he is picking two or more components in the plate ( mostly these could be variables, if to be described in mathematical terms) and attempt to do or accomplish those tasks. Considering that even women other wise said to be better multi-taskers, find exhaustion and added anxiety while going through the process of handling multiple ‘to dos’, with the feeling of overwhelm looming their skies, is it time to look a bit more closer to the exalted skill of multitasking?
Dr. Barry Schwartz, Psychologist and professor of Social Theory says, given the media-rich landscape of the Internet era, it is tempting to get into a habit of dwelling in a constant sea of information with too many choices, which has been noted to have a negative effect on human happiness. According to Dr. John J Medina, Developmental Molecular Biologist and author of ‘Brain Rules” (2008), human brain is designed to process things sequentially and multitasking is a after all a myth which causes more fuzziness to the brain. That could eat up a huge load of energy and apparently the individual feel that s/he has achieved considerable amount of output as against sequential task performance.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_multitasking – cite_note-20
What options would people like Tina have to lighten the burden of duties and responsibilities and even the basic human need to rest and relax and yet not negotiate on her success factors that are certain propellers to get her to her personal goal actualization?
Is it possible for her to consider plotting her list to find some correlation between all of that to make some meaning and more importantly figure out what are the impacts on the very clinical term of input versus output? The amount of time and effort spent on her activities, would that really justify the quality of output? How important is to be mindful and absolutely aware of each of the activities and more than anything else, focus on each of the tasks.
Life can become like driving a car that is not auto gear. Initially we are so aware of what are the different functions that are to be performed. Depending on speed, one has to shift gears, one has to watch the road, look out for road rules and obeying them, steer the car so that the curve is smooth and your passenger isn’t tossed about in the back seat! Heed the other vehicles and sometimes even crazy drivers on the road.. so a simple one mile drive to a grocery store is about the brain doing so much on the driving skill application not to say anything about the grocery list, other errands, child’s home work project and the list can just go on!
Initially when we learn to drive, all the various things about the mechanics of the car is paramount in our mind. Later, it becomes a skill. So the processing (very same that we started out as beginners), are running in the background and the errands such as picking up a child from a music lesson etc come to the foreground of the mind.
Not all of can be existing in the Zen realm of being here and living in Now. That takes years of practice and absolute awareness. So what do ordinary mortals like you and me, do to bring some order out chaos in the ‘to do lists’ running constantly in our brains? Writing down the list like most of us do is a fantastic idea. That makes sure that we do not leave out anything. But is that enough?
Let us have a look at what Tina’s coach would consider. How is s/he supporting Tina who is intelligent, hard working and a sensible woman? She is complaining of recurring headaches to her family doctor. This as we saw is diagnosed as something that is caused by stress. Perhaps using her brain as an intel 3 chip did all that damage? And what might be of help for Tina to be perhaps is to let her brain function as a normal human brain. HH The Dalai Lama says: “Compassion is not just about being good to someone else. It is also about being good to self”. (Who else, better than The Dalai Lama, to speak on compassion! )The coach could support Tina to view herself with compassion to then work on the plate that is brimming in her life with endless lists of work and life demands.
If the coach, in this instance could be someone who has explored the concept of something as mathematical and clinical as a scatter plot, And bring it into the realm of coaching in such a way that the whole number mumbo jumbo is demystified? Would that be possible is a question any skeptic would ask here.
If Tina was spending a considerable amount of time in dropping her child to school, car pooling is a certain option for her. But does that only tick one item in her daily to do list? How does it become more meaningful if she were to connect and correlate it to rest of her day’s productivity? And taking the same rule, apply it to her work ‘to dos’ as well and plot their mutual correlation to each other and figure out how the input versus output look like. One need not go to the extent of using the digital statistical tool like minitab* to do this. The exercise is about going one step deeper than making lists and organizing the calendar, to bring about linearity in the chaos. A coach can certainly work with the client and support them in this exercise by delayering the way a client looks at their task lists. Paying more attention, as said before to find the connections and value each one of it bring, both to input (time, emotional energy, physical energy) and output of success, fulfillment, completion of tasks.
Conceptually plotting the scattered is a very left brained activity perhaps. But considering the creativity that is required to join the dots and is what makes a mathematical application bring color to the art of coaching. Clients who are high achievers and load their plates full on a continuous basis (some complain of not having enough to do and feel the ‘withdrawal symptoms’ unable to enjoy a vacation without their blackberry next to their pillow!) could certainly explore this option with their coaches. Alfa managers who take to data like fish to water could certainly be great candidates for coaches to work with applying the scatter plot concept.
In summary, striding the left brain and right brain application, certain approaches in a coaching process can be elegantly artistic with logical application of even concepts like something as data processing tool like a scatter diagram. A coach is on a constant journey of self discovery and learning to be able to engage and support various clients who come with different approaches to life, learning and self awareness. In the never ending learning cycles, ideas and concepts we find in our environment, be it emotional, physical or intellectual and refining them to practical applicability is what would set apart a magnificent and powerful coach from the crowd which again is the very beauty of coaching as a career! This path provides constant learning, awareness and development of consciousness of an individual while bringing progress and movement in the clients.
Wikipedia: Sir. Francis Galton
Isixsigma.com, Scatter plot/ scatter diagram
Brain Rules : Dr. John J Medina ( 2008)
Destructive Emotions and how we can overcome them, A Dialogue with HH Dalai Lama by Daniel Goleman.(2003)