I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of single-tasking when first introduced to it. I have been multi-tasking for years and I’m really good at it. While this is a great talent and has its usefulness, it can also lead to:
• mental exhaustion
• elevated cortisol (for me this means weight gain in my belly)
• increased stress
• memory loss
• decreased productivity
If you are ready to embrace the idea of one-thing-at-a-time, here are some tips to help you get started:
First, Plan your day
Each day, I choose three projects that I plan to work on, and I handle them one at a time, in whatever order I want. Whenever I have the urge to do something else, like research, check email, or socialize, I recognize that as a distraction and either ignore the thought or write it down so I remember to do it later. I remind myself of the three projects to focus on, and I bring my focus back to those intentions.
If you are like me and have multi-tasked for years, this adjustment is going to take some time. Notice when your brain starts to get busy and, don’t criticize yourself or get frustrated, just bring yourself back to the task you’re working on.
Next, Eliminate Distractions
To stay focused, I’ve created ways to avoid distractions, like putting a do-not-disturb sign on the door, shutting off the phone, and blocking social media sites. I recently adjusted my email settings to send and receive emails once an hour, which reduces distractions significantly.
Finally, Don’t be hard on yourself
The temptation to multitask is a strong one, so be easy on yourself. Personally, I think it is still ok to watch TV while you clean, listen to podcasts while you’re driving and carry the dirty laundry down the steps at the same time as you carry the trash down. But when it comes to really important things like writing a proposal, calling a client, or spending time with your loved ones, One Thing at a Time is powerful and effective. I hope you’ll give it a try.