I made a mistake.  In the end, it wasn't as bad as it could've been. But, by not paying attention I did something silly and embarrassing that cost me about $200 and made me miss an important board meeting. And I know better.

You see on Wednesday of last week, after some early morning meetings in Melbourne I was driving out of town to attend another meeting. I planned the trip to make sure I'd arrive with enough time to re-read some of the board papers before kick off. I also had a list of people to call from the car (handsfree of course!) during the 2+ hour drive. 

About an hour into the drive, as I was about to pull into a service station, I quickly called KW to ask how her day was going and to let her know what time I'd be home. I ended the call as I stopped at the petrol pump and got out of the car to fuel up.  I don't know what happened in the next 2 minutes, but I do remember the moment I realised that I'd pumped about 20 litres of unleaded fuel into my tank.  Here's the mistake: since November of last year, I've been driving a diesel car!

At the very moment that I realised my mistake I was disappointed, embarrassed and angry all at once.  What a goose!  How could I be so distracted to put the wrong bloody fuel in the tank?

After paying for the fuel (that I didn't need!), I called roadside assist and they told me it was a good thing I hadn't started the engine with the wrong fuel, but, the car did have to be towed.  Two long hours later a truck arrived and my car was towed to a nearby dealership. By then, it was after 5pm, the mechanics had gone home and my car and I had to part company. I walked to the bus stop, waited in the cold for 30 minutes before catching the 6:05pm bus towards home at the same time the board meeting was about to start.  I missed the meeting and needed KW to pick me up from the bus stop long after little Alex should've been tucked up in bed.  I was reunited with my car two days later and close to $200 out of pocket.

Why I know better than being distracted.

Only one day before this mistake I'd presented on the concept of focus at To The Point.  Below are my notes from my CEO Spotlight that I shared with The Physio Co support team last Tuesday.


Tristan's CEO Spotlight..

"TPCers, this morning I want to start by sharing some research. Did you know that:

  1. IQ drops by about 10% when you're distracted by incoming emails, calls and interruptions?  And,
  2. A 10% decrease in IQ has a similar effect as losing a full night of sleep & twice the effect of smoking marijuana?

Doing a few things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we're getting more done.

In reality, compared with focusing on just one task, our productivity can drop by 40% because we don't and can't multi-task.  We switch task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, continually interrupting ourselves and losing time in the process.

You might think you're good at it, practice makes perfect and all that, but, you'd be wrong. Research tells us that heavy multitaskers are less competent at it than light multitaskers. In contrast to almost everything else in your life, the more you multitask, the worse you get at it.

On the other hand, when you focus on only one thing at a time four things happen:

  1. You'll be happier. You'll find you enjoy the tasks you're doing and feel much more into it. (Like when you're so focused on something you lose track of time)
  2. You'll get more done.  Multitasking slows us down by 40% remember
  3. You'll be less stressed.  Multitasking increases stress because it takes much longer to get things done.  Single tasking reduces stress
  4. You'll miss nothing.  Single-tasking does not cause you to miss out on anything. Our lives are much better with focus.

Based on this research, the only reasons I can think of that any of us might choose to multitask is when we want to feel stressed, sad and unproductive! 

If you'd like to ease out of multitasking and start being happier, here are some tips:

  1. Notifications suck!  In a few minutes, when you go back to your computer, turn off every notification that tells you when you have new email.  I know some of you guys have the notifications turned on and I know you're addicted to email.  I suspect it's making you unhappy and stressed.  Turn off the notifications and then book a time to check your email. Once a day, once an hour, whenever you choose. But be in control of your email, don't let your email be in control of you.
  2. Book some quiet time.  Everyone in the TPC Support office has permission to be unavailable for periods of the day when you're focussing.  Choose a 45- minute  period, book it in to your calendar, tell people that you're not available, and then focus.  If you do it properly, this will be the best 45 minutes of your entire day.
  3. Slash your timeframes.  If you'd normally allow an hour to do something, only give yourself 30 mins, set a timer and commit to getting it done in 30 mins.  With the clock ticking, you won't allow those interruptions to stop you and you'll feel so satisfied when the work is done in half the time.  (I use E.gg Timer)

One phrase wrap up: Let's get focused to get more done and have more fun!


The evidence is pretty clear. Focus is the key to happiness, getting more done and avoiding silly mistakes like putting the wrong fuel in your car.  Along with the tips above, I've just started a 'single-tab browsing' approach to help me stay on track.

Do you have any thoughts, ideas or tips on focus? I'd love to hear how you avoid the temptation to multitask that we all face everyday.  I'd also love any stories that make me feel less goose-like about the whole diesel thing (surely I'm not the only one!).  Please share in the comments below.