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Simple Productivity: Select, Single-Task til Done, Repeat

The Elegant Art of Getting Things Done

“Work on one thing at a time until finished”.  – HENRY MILLER

The ability to focus is becoming rarer. More and more of us are struggling to get to complete as we try to juggle commitments. Distractions abound and not all of us are good at dealing with them. Many of us have even become attracted to distracted.

Whole markets have sprung up to deal with this problem.

Never have we faced such an influx of busy and distracted in our lives. Never have we had to deal with so many external requests and demands on our time. It is leading to an always on culture and expectation. Technology that was meant to help can just become part of the problem.

The truth is, we have the power to break this cycle. We can instill simple but powerful habits ourselves without needing to break the bank on productivity courses from the latest guru of choice.

If you struggle with focus and getting to complete on tasks and projects that matter to you, try the following.


1) Pick a Meaningful/Important Task

Not all tasks are created equally. In fact, when we really sit down and do some 80/20 analysis, we may find a lot of what we think we need to do, doesn’t actually need doing at all.

Identify the important tasks/projects/people in your life. Focus on them. On a daily basis, select a few of these areas to work on. Perhaps limiting yourself to 2-3 main tasks a day. One at a time, work through them.


2) Single Task

Once we have selected what we are going to spend our time and energy on, let’s invest ourselves fully. Head down, focused effort on tasks and projects. Disconnect wifi, turn the phone to silent, put on some headphones so others don’t disrupt you. Many ways work. Do whatever it takes to channel your energy into this one task. Then revel in the feeling of tuning all your energy into just one thing. Embrace this deep state of focus and welcome in the rare air that is the flow state.

If the important task in question is meeting with a friend, family member or colleague ensure you are present. Embrace the moment and give these people your full, undivided attention.


3) Complete and Repeat

As we complete each task, project and meeting we simply repeat the steps above. Again and again.


Simple, Not Easy

These steps and the overall framework are astonishingly simple. That’s what can make them so effective.  They are not new, you’ve heard them before in various flavours. That doesn’t make them easy. However, with some practice and determination, we can ingrain them as habit. We can own a version that fits for us. 

What we’ll notice with this approach is how much we can really achieve when we focus. We’ll realise how much we’ve been distracting ourselves, or allowing ourselves to be distracted, without a method in place.

Single task til done, then hit repeat. The ultimate productivity hack if ever there was one. And all it will cost you is the time to read this article and a little effort to embed the habit.

Carl writes short books full of big ideas. He is also the proud owner of Frictionless Living which is focused on helping readers live simpler, finding focus and clarity in distracted times.

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