Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TAGteacher Tale - Dealing with Distractions

by Matt McKeon

My name is Matt and I’m 22 years old. I’m a server at an upscale sushi bar and restaurant and also a full time student. I have many tasks to remember throughout the day including:  cleaning and pressing my work clothes, researching for a term paper, posting on the discussion board for my on-line classes, remembering the drink order for the five people sitting at table twelve, and sending in my car insurance payment.

I’ve also been diagnosed with ADHD, along with eighty-five percent of my generation. I constantly have to readjust my focus and attention to not get lost in the myriad of thoughts that run past my eyes. I understand that this is something many people struggle with on a daily basis, but there are ways to train yourself on your day to day tasks.

First thing, decide what your problem is. For example, I was having an issue remembering to enter the customer’s order after taking it. This was causing me some serious stress because I would regularly have to have food cooked with extra haste because I spaced the order. The solution to this problem was simple, enter in the order. It seems simple enough, but so many things can come between taking the order and entering it into the computer. There are people asking directions to the bathroom, another table asking me to find their waitress and the chief yelling out that three orders are ready to be taken out.

Other people run into similar problems everyday and find themselves confronted with the same instruction, "Just do it." So how can you "just do it"? Obviously if all I need was someone to tell me to "just do it", I wouldn't be having the problem in the first place. I need restructuring. My behavior must meet the "shape" of the task at hand. I must have a clear and simple goal, make that goal a recurring priority, and execute the plan.

Here is how I made it happen. I decided the important “just do it” thing was to “enter in the order”. That would be my sole objective. The directions are, “Say thanks, punch it in”. The TAG point is…punch it in.  “Say thanks, punch it in” was the 5 word expression I used in my head to remind myself to perform the task. I mentally tagged myself every time I entered in an order right after saying thank-you. Since I started using TAG at my workplace, there have been some significant positive changes in my efficacy at work.

TAG is not just for one person to use to teach another, it is a whole new way to approach the learning and retaining information. The roles of the teacher and the student become interchangeable. I see this as one of the keys to TAG's wide success in all forms of training. I will post more on the topic as I develop.

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