MINIMALISM: 6 SIMPLE STEPS TO SINGLE TASKING
If I have multiple tabs open on my computer screen, several emails being written at once, adding tasks to my to do list, taking phone calls, books scattered on my desk opened at really important pages and a handful of proposals and content plans waiting to be finished, I feel busy and important. Right? Surely my blog is going well and I’m on top of my to do list this week? Definitely not.
I feel stressed, overwhelmed and quite frankly, procrastination is kicking in - like all of a sudden, the floors in the kitchen need mopping, I might reorganise my bookshelf and I think I’ll head down to the post office to see if a package has arrived. The thing is, like so many of you, I’ve grown up in the age of multitasking where I can’t call myself productive or successful if I’m not a good multitasker. And to be honest, for a while, being a multitasker felt good.
But it doesn’t anymore.
Being a multitasker sets me up for fail; it’s less efficient and more complicated. I find I am not pouring 100% of my concentration, creativity and motivation into tasks because my mind is scattered across multiple tasks. It also leads to distraction.
The truth is, our brains are not designed to do many things at once. So let me introduce you to the concept of ‘Single Tasking’. The art of single tasking is having the ability to do one thing and nothing else with the dedication to doing the best you can. In short, single tasking is the ability to be mindful and live in the moment. It doesn’t matter what you are doing – writing an email or making yourself a cup of coffee, living your life this way will increase your creativity, energy and focus.
To help you get your shit done better and faster, here are 6 steps to single tasking.
1. GIVE YOUR BRAIN DOWN TIME It’s impossible to be switched on every second of the day so to live a successful single tasking lifestyle, take several short breaks a day. Get some fresh air, take a quick walk outside, grab a bite to eat – these are all great examples for giving your brain down time.
2. GET YOUR SHIT DONE SEQUENTIALLY Our brains are wired for deep and innovative thinking, but that’s impossible to do if you’re trying to do several things at once. It takes a concentrated effort to leave the chaos of multitasking behind but the first step to single tasking is to get your shit done sequentially. Take your time, do one thing at a time and do it well.
3. FOCUS WITHOUT DISTRACTION This is my favourite. When I single task, I like to remove all distractions. I put my phone in another room (and it’s perpetually on silent), I close down my email, I turn the television off and I focus on performing one task at a time – like this blog post. If you’re new to this and find yourself struggling, start with short intervals, such as 15 minutes, and work your way up to longer time periods. You’ll be amazed at the volume of work you produce and the creativity you have when you focus without distraction. You will also find your accuracy, innovation and speed increases ten fold!
4. MAKE A WORKING TO DO LIST There is no point having a to do list if it’s not working. In fact, knowing how to write an effective to do list (that actually works) is something I’ve written about before. You can check it out here.
5. PICK A FEW TASKS EACH DAY The key to single tasking is to just pick a few tasks each day, allocate them to your Most Important Tasks (MIT) list and complete them first. Whilst you may keep a longer to do list, the key is to pick just a few things each day.
6. KEEP A NOTEBOOK If an idea strikes or other things come up, and let’s be honest this happens all the time, write them down immediately in a notebook then close the notebook and look at it when you have finished your Most Important Tasks. This is so you don’t get sidetracked but also so you don’t forget the things you need to remember later.
Do you have any other methods you use to single task? Or do you sometimes struggle with stepping back from multitasking like me?