Singletasking vs. Multitasking

By Tom Reilly, author of Value-Added Selling

Multitasking leads to brain drain.

You’re driving to your next appointment, enjoying your Starbuck’s Mocha Frappuccino, listening to the Stones, and your cell phone rings. You answer it. At the next stoplight, you text your inside sales support rep. The light changes, and the person in back of you honks his horn. You wave and drive off, proud of your ability to multitask. Multitasking is one of those things in life that just because you can does not mean that you should.

Researchers have studied the paradoxical value of multitasking. A group of psychologists found that multitasking reduces productivity by up to 40%. Separately, researchers are now documenting the switching costs of multitasking and have found that it can increase the time-to-complete a project by as much as 25%. Multitasking leads to mistakes due to lack of focus; unsafe acts, as in texting and driving; and relationship damage, as one dinner partner ignores the other to respond to a message.

When you direct all of your attention solely to the single task at hand, you are using all of your mental resources to create something of value. When you split your attention, the task receives only part of your mental resources. You really do not need to research this to understand the practical value of this concept.

The real problem is that multitasking is addictive. It seduces people into believing that they are indispensable. Also, it triggers a dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates an euphoric reaction similar to the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. Some people will argue its practicality and necessity in today’s world. For them, I offer this advice: To reduce stress, do more of less.

Visit to read more about this book and the time management principle, Red-Zone Green-Zone.

No One Is a Ten

By Tom Reilly

In the 1979 movie 10, the Dudley Moore character falls hopelessly under the spell of the Bo Derek character. His struggle is the quest for this beauty. In the end, he discovers the reality that no one is a 10 and wishes to return to his prior life.

Years ago, while rifling through the seminar evaluations from a good three days with a group, I was getting drunk on the number of 10’s (on a 10-point scale) that I received from the group. They were confirming my observations that this was a good week. Until, I got to the evaluation from the most engaged participant in the group and the strongest advocate of Value-Added Selling. I expected a 12 on this 10-point scale. He gave me a 9 and a sobering lesson. He commented on the evaluation, “No one gets a 10.” I was humbled and rightly so.

No one is a 10. If you think you are a 10, you are really an 8. One point deducted for lack of insight and another to make room for growth. Thinking you are a 10 is either arrogance or complacency. The former says, “I am good enough as is—take it or leave it.” The latter says, “I’m okay where I am and don’t want to push myself to get better.” Both premises are false.

If you accept the thesis that no one is a 10, look for areas in your life where you can improve. For example, your company’s customer experience cannot be a 10 because it means it cannot get better. Don’t get drunk on your own good press. Ask instead, “Where can we improve?” Customers mislead us in customer satisfaction surveys when they give us the highest rating. It feeds our arrogance and starves our motivation to improve.

Where can you get better in your job: selling skills, product knowledge, relationship skills, attitude, organizational skills, customer knowledge, technology, or internal selling skills? You are not a 10. I am not a 10. We can all get better at what we do. Join us in May for a two-day Value-Added Selling learning experience. We can help you gain some traction on your quest to grow.

Are You a Three Percenter?

By Tom Reilly

“He’s a three-percenter.”

“What’s that,” I asked the sales manager.

“Every year, he invests three percent of his time and income in personal development. That’s what it takes to be the top salesperson in a salesforce of 500 salespeople.”

Are you a three-percenter? How much time and money do you invest in the brand over which you have the most control? I’m talking about Brand You. What are you waiting for?

In 2014, U.S. companies invested 2.8% of their top lines in product research and development. They invested .42% in training and development. People represent the single unique dimension of value, but companies invest 6-7 times more money developing products versus people.

Let’s face it. Your company is not going to invest three percent of its top line on you and your peers. This means you must take charge. Brand You is your responsibility. You might as well own it.

You must read, study, and train five hours every week. This is three percent of your time or one hour for each day of the workweek. If you don’t have time for this, study time management. Invest $3,000 every year of your $100,000 income in your professional development. If you’re not making that kind of money, are you investing in yourself to reach that level? This is your responsibility. Most companies will not invest that much time and money in your brand. Own it.

There are few guarantees in this world. I cannot guarantee you will be number-one in a salesforce of 500 people if you make this investment. However, I can guarantee you will not be number-one if you fail to invest in Brand You.