Brain Fracking

 In Living Our Best Life, Power of Relationships, Practicing Law and Life

Have you ever felt like you’ve been fracking your brain? I have. You know those times where you feel spread too thin, over scheduled with clients, projects and briefs. Maybe you are waking up at night worrying about what you need to do tomorrow. With every efficiency idea you come up with, you feel even more scattered. That’s brain fracking – diffused focus made worse by efficiency.

Fracking is the injection of water, chemicals and sand at high pressure in order to get more oil or natural gas from shale. It’s a controversial process. Some say it’s a boon for our country and other’s say we are creating a host of future problems.

Trying to get more out of what we have is a good thing, provided the negative consequences don’t out weigh the benefits.

I’m surrounded by thoughts and ideas of efficiency – from emails to ads in legal magazines. I can’t afford to not become more efficient. It’s easy to get caught up in all that I have to do. I never seem to have more time than things to do – how about you?

I love being efficient, especially at work. I’m always looking for better ways to keep up with emails, return phone calls and get work done on both short term and longer term projects.

Yes, I can multi-task. Looking at emails while talking on the phone with a client- got it. Thinking about my next client while talking with my legal assistant- I can do that. Working on a letter while talking with my receptionist – check. What makes your top three lists of multi-taking efficiencies?

The fundamental problem with multi-tasking efficiency is not that I can’t do it. It’s what it does to me. It fracks my brain. The more fractured or diffuse my attention becomes the more I sense my mind wandering in conversations that I want to be fully present for. Singular focus and attention is critical in my relationships to my clients, legal assistant, receptionist and other attorneys in my office.

Not to mention that I can’t always turn off my fractured focus when I get home. It’s hard enough sometimes to shake off work mode, now I have to pull my focus back together. Sometimes I’m aware of this fractured state; other times, it makes me wonder how often I’m not aware of when it’s happening.

Efficiency is a good thing. But what is it serving? Efficiency for efficiency sake? To be more productive so I make more money? In a vacuum there’s nothing wrong with that.

But that’s not why I practice law. Efficiency for the sake of doing a better job taking care of my clients – now that’s a worthy goal. One that does not frack my brain in the process. The consequences of brain fracking seep far beyond me.

Do you have your own fracking experiences? How do you keep focus and remain efficient? Let me know in the comment section below.

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  • Robert Hixon

    I love the wit, in the use of fracking as an analogy. Fracking generates pressure. When we are over worked, we are being pressured. In our lives, we strive for perfect balance. With zero pressure nothing is accomplished. With too much pressure, evertything breaks down.
    Multi tasking is thrown around as a buzz word. What are we actually doing ? You are not calculating payroll and filing a court document at the same time. What we are actually doing is maximizing our time. It is often said that time is money. I submit, time is more valuable than money. Nobody wishes they spent more money but everybody wishes they spent more time with loved ones.

    • Jim Dwyer

      I completely agree Rob. Ultimately, time is always more valuable that money. It’s in the short run that it can be harder to see it that way.

  • Scott Hutchinson

    Great post Jim! When I think of brain fracking it brings up the concept of fractionalization. We are fracturing our concentration and not using the full power of our singular focus. When we as human beings try to multi task we must be careful not to lose focus. I see it this way… in order to avoid brain fracking you must focus on only one thing at a time. If two projects need mental focus we as human beings can’t effectively focus on two things at once. If we try to the brain ends up alternating between the two projects and as a consequence loses concentration and focus on both projects. In the process of trying to do to many things at once, we dramatically lose our mental effectiveness and focus as the brain basically has to break concentration each time it alternates between the two simultaneous projects. In most instances, unless the project is completely mundane and routine, multi tasking is a very inefficient way to complete tasks throughout the day and leads to “brain fracking.”

    • Jim Dwyer

      Fractionalization is a perfect descriptor of the true effect of multitasking. I have to work hard to not do it. The pressure to get work done quickly and the perception of being more efficient, makes it easy to mindlessly do.

      What I do at work, so I do at home. Having my mind focus on multiple thoughts while having a conversation with my daughters or wife- is neither efficient nor endearing. Thank you very much for your thoughts and ideas Scott.

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