Today the Harvard Business Review blog had a post by Tony Schwartz entitled “The Magic of Doing One Thing at A Time.” It raised the usual question about work habits and made some good suggestions on increased productivity. Two paragraphs in particular jumped out at me about the deleterious effect of most people’s work habits:
The biggest cost — assuming you don't crash — is to your productivity. In part, that's a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you're partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it's because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you're increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.
But most insidiously, it's because if you're always doing something, you're relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.
Schwartz is writing about adults—those who, in theory, have developed the skills and self-discipline to handle the demands of their jobs. (Read full post here.)
But in reading the post, I couldn’t help but think about the way we ask young people to go about their lives. I won’t delineate every detail here. Yet I encourage you to spend a few moments pondering a typical 24 hours in the life of a student, especially one at a school with a culture of high achievement.