One. Thing. At. A. Time.
The time you spend switching from one task to another may not feel like a long time, but all of those seconds really add up throughout the day.
Have you ever had days when you feel like you're running around, trying to get everything done? I know I have. As human beings, we love multi-tasking because it helps us feel like we are accomplishing a lot. Plus, we may feel negative stress if we don't check off all of the items on our daily or weekly to-do lists. However, doing too many things at the same time distracts us from being in the present moment, fills our lives with superfluous pressure, and is ultimately a waste of our precious time.
Christopher Westra, a well-known Utah author says that "the quickest way to do many things is to do one thing at a time." The time you spend switching from one task to another may not feel like a long time, but all of those seconds really add up throughout the day. Have you ever been working on a homework assignment, or some type of work-related task while also eating, watching a show, or talking with a friend on the phone? Whenever I have done this, I find that it takes twice as much time to complete the primary task I was originally working on. Think of how much time we could have if we were fully absorbed in every single thing we do.
Gets Rid of The Unrealistic Expectation of Perfection
Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty about something I'm not doing while working on another task. The reality is that we are imperfect human beings. Each task we are completing is important and we only need to worry about doing one thing at a time. As long as we are doing the best we can do at each task, we are succeeding. Sometimes this requires an individual evaluation of the importance of each task we are completing. This will help us realize the tasks we need to focus on and the ones we need to do less of, or eliminate entirely. Everything we do each day should be tied to some kind of larger goal that we have in life. What about the trivial tasks like doing laundry, washing the dishes, and getting groceries? Even these tasks are helping us to become more organized, healthy, prepared individuals. If we can come to accept our imperfections, but always do things with a deeper goal in mind, we will have greater meaning flow into our lives.
Higher Productivity and Quality Results
When you multi-task you are prone to make more errors than you would if you were focusing on one thing. Steve Uzzell said, "Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time."
Creativity & Imagination Boost
Experts say that trying to do several things at one time hinders imagination because key thoughts and creativity come from links between memories. When we use our time and brainpower to constantly switch back and forth between two tasks, our thoughts become disconnected.
You may be thinking, "Okay, you convinced me, doing one thing at a time is clearly the way to go, but how do I accomplish this in my busy life?"
Here are some tips for you:
1. Learn to say "No" to things. If you feel that you have too much on your plate, it is best to be polite and honest with someone and explain to them that you can't do everything.
2. Get rid of any distractions. If your phone keeps buzzing, put it away. Find a setting where you can really focus on what you're doing.
3. Take breaks. When you put everything you have into one task, it can get tiring. Give your brain and body a little break. Get a snack, drink some water, talk to a friend for a minute, take a 20-minute nap, etc., then continue working on the task at hand.