I have a trick that will instantly make you more productive, focused and calm everyday. It will reduce your stress level and help you accomplish more than you have ever gotten done before. Without this tip you could fumble through a whole day, week, month or year not knowing what it is you have been doing with all of your time. This trick will give you more time in your day to either accomplish more or just enjoy your life. Are you ready for it? Here it is. Single Task.
That’s all it takes. The amount of distractions that can occur throughout the day limits how much you can complete. Each time you get distracted you lose focus on the task you are working on. You have to waste time figuring out where you were in your train of thought. Not only do you save time, but you also will improve the quality of whatever you are working on.
I am a member of Generation Y and have been a chronic multitasker my entire life. In college, I would have the television on while I listened to my iPod, sent multiple instant messages and wrote an essay for class. I would have multiple people in my room watching a movie or playing Guitar Hero and I would be conversing with them while I proofread my PowerPoint presentations. Until recently I always assumed I was just better at accomplishing tasks than some people because I thought I could get more done by multitasking. In the past few months I have started focusing on one thing at a time and the results are astounding.
Don’t underestimate the power of being focused on a single task at a time. Even if you have 10 tasks that are the “top priority”, the best strategy is to make a list of all of them and tackle them one at a time. You’ll be amazed at how much faster you can get through tasks. When you put the blinders on and zero in on a single mission, great things can happen.
Single tasking throughout the whole day is a hard thing to do. What I suggest is that you pick one area of your life that you will only single task during and then add more areas as you get better at it. For me, I started with writing. I close my email and any other programs on my computer, put on instrumental music or put in earplugs and I write. The stream of consciousness that I am able to get by working this way is exponentially better than how I wrote when I was in college.
I used to dread writing for school. When I wrote, there would be one sentence here (respond to this text message quick), a couple more there (got to check my email) and then I’d have to read what I just wrote to see if it was even coherent English. Writing essays and papers took me a long time, which was why I hated it.
Now, when I sit down to write for this site, I just look at my outline for the post and my fingers flow quickly across the keys so that I can write paragraphs at a time without stopping. I call this being in the zone. Programmers would call it being “plugged in.” The keys to this for me are staying focused on a single task, a song with a driving beat and no distractions. The phone is on silent, the instant messaging programs are closed and my inbox is closed.
What if you can’t focus in your current environment? Find a location where you can work distraction free. Take your computer to a coffee shop and face away from the crowd towards a wall. When you go to your couch to read a book don’t bring over your phone or grab the television remote. Ask your boss if you can work in a conference room away from your desk for an hour or two a day. Just focus on one thing at a time. When you get into the habit of single tasking it can be quite calming. You will know that there may be other things you could be doing, but you are choosing to do just one of them. This mindset has a calming effect on me.
What if you think of something you forgot to do or that you need to go get? A simple solution is to just have a piece of paper next to you while you single task. If you think of something you forgot at the store, wanted to look up on the internet or need to tell your friend just write it down. Get it out of your head so you can go back to what you are working on. You then can handle that list after you are done single tasking instead of letting all of those other tasks destroy your productivity.
Do you switch between tasks faster than a gunslinger draws his gun in a duel? Rethink how effective and productive you are actually being when you multi-task.