The How Are You, Really, Checkup
Symptoms: You can't seem to focus. You're irritable, and you have trouble finishing what you start.
Cause: Information/obligation overload.
Remedy: Do one thing at a time; develop energizing habits.
With only so many hours in a day, a lot of us try to take on everything at once. A while back, I was interviewing a television network executive when he asked if I would mind if he answered his e-mail while we talked. I did mind—and it was further evidence of just how hard it can be to give anything your undivided attention. Yet there's a high price to pay for perpetual distraction: You not only feel frazzled but you accomplish less.
That's because multitasking is the enemy of engagement, Jim Loehr says—and engagement is what makes for peak performance. "Great leaders, the richest friends you have—these are very engaged people," he says. "They're not spaced-out. They're completely with you, here and now. It's what I call the Mr. Rogers syndrome." Your kids may not have been able to tell you why they liked Mr. Rogers so much, but one thing is certain: Mr. Rogers never multitasked. The real-world rule may be: It's okay to do two things at once, as long as you don't need to do either of them particularly well.
Not surprisingly, Loehr, who has worked with speed skater Dan Jansen and tennis champ Monica Seles, believes everyone benefits from exercise. More unexpected is his belief that the mental commitment to an energy-enhancing routine can be as helpful as the physical activity itself. "You tell me you're impatient, you're tired, and you have very little tolerance for frustration?" Loehr says. "It's amazing how creating a ritual as basic as getting regular exercise, or even setting a date night and making a big deal out of it, can change your life."
Condition #2: Paralyzed