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Fast Forward

Please, put down your spoon while you read this

By ,

Could we just stop, take a deep breath and think about how crazy we're letting life become?

There are limits to multitasking. Really.

According to a report last week on Marketplace, adult breakfast cereal sales are stagnating because — wait for it — eating with a spoon takes too much time.

Why sit down and think about the day ahead while enjoying a healthy breakfast when you can be weaving through traffic with one hand on the wheel and the other clutching a hot-from-the-microwave cheese-sausage muffin sandwich as cooling coffee sloshes in the cup holder beside you?

And who wants to arrive at the office calm, collected and with one's blood pressure under control anyway?

For the sake of everyone around you, you should. Stress is contagious.

There are many articles online about how multitasking creates stress and stress undermines health, relationships and job performance. Here's one that breaks down the negative effects into a digestible 12-point list.

But focus — also known as mindfulness — improves communication, productivity and even quality in the workplace. It can make you a better leader. Personal bonuses include better health and an extended lifespan. Mindfulness and its effect on profits even made it onto the agenda at the World Economic Forum at Davos this year.

Anybody can go with the multitasking herd. It takes strength of character to admit you perform better one task at a time.

But to get back to Americans' appalling eating habits: It's perplexing. More of us eat out on a regular basis than ever before, and prepackaged meals are so popular that basic cooking skills are going the way of cursive writing. Families hardly ever gather for Norman-Rockwell-style home-cooked meals.

Yet TV shows and cable channels devoted to food have never been more popular. And online real estate listings obsess over high-end gourmet kitchens.

I browsed through almost three dozen photos of a midstate home listing online last week, more than half of which showed the gleaming kitchen and an eat-in area large enough to seat 12; the rest of the truly beautiful house was almost an afterthought. I notice the same thing with apartment listings — kitchen, kitchen, kitchen.

I guess it's a special feeling opening your Chinese takeout box on rich granite countertops, surrounded by gleaming, unsullied stainless appliances.

The week ahead

As Business Journal health care reporter Heather Stauffer noted in a recent blog, UPMC claims to have no employees — which, despite a staff of more than 50,000, isn't as crazy as it sounds. As part of our Inside Business focus on human resources and workers' compensation this coming week, we look at the growing trend of companies leasing employees and how that works.

Also this week in the print edition, reporter Brent Burkey tells us what blast from the past is hoping to take a competitive bite out of Harley-Davidson.

If you're looking for networking opportunities, click here.

The rewind

Cooking is also rampant online. Most popular cooking video ever? YouTube says it's this one with chef Gordon Ramsay making scrambled eggs. It's not your mom's dish, for sure. Aren't you supposed to use a skillet?

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