Most of us are trying to do many things at the same time. We plan our day while cooking breakfast. We talk on the phone while finalising a work report. We interrupt what we’re doing to check the latest message that has just arrived in our inbox.
We feel like we’re completing more, but research shows that when we’re multi-tasking our productivity decreases dramatically. Not only we’re not achieving as much, but we make more mistakes, miss things and overall perform at a lower level than those of us who do one thing at a time.
So what’s the secret to exceptional productivity?
Focus. Do one thing at a time. You’ll work faster and produce better quality. You’ll lose the feeling of being pulled in many different directions and the time speeding past you. Even your time alone and with your family will become more meaningful.
It sounds great, but how can we transition from what we know into a state of focus? Is it even possible?
It’s taken years to create a habit of multi-tasking and it won’t go away easily as soon as you decide to do one thing at a time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t experience the benefits of focus immediately. Even if you do it for 30 minutes or an hour a day to start with, you’ll be surprised at the results you get.
A timer is a great tool to use when you’re experimenting with focus. Decide what you’ll be working on, set your timer for 30 minutes and challenge yourself to only work on that task until the time runs out.
Work on the essential tasks first
Spend a few minutes determining what needs to get done on that day and what’s important long-term. Then work on those tasks first. There’s a sense of achievement and increased energy that comes with completing something important. You may also find that all the little tasks that kept you busy before are no longer needed and you’ve created more time to work on what really matters.
This may not always be possible, when you work in a busy office, so just do your best. Choose the quietest time of the day for your focused time. Turn off email, social media and phone notifications. Clear your desk. Ask your colleagues or family members to minimise interruptions.
Every so often go for a walk, spend some time in the sun, stretch, breath to let yourself clear your mind. Clarity will help you recognise the tasks that will give you the best return on your time. You’ll also be inviting new ideas on how to complete your tasks in the most efficient way.
I invite you to try this approach and decide for yourself if it works for you. What are you going to focus on today?
Image from deathtothestockphoto.com
By Tatiana Apostolova