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Welcome to Day 14.
Remember when multi-tasking was all the rage? We thought we’d get more done and save time. What a crock that turned out to be!
Today let’s single-task our way to a simpler life.
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25 thoughts on “Day 14: Single-Tasking”
Our group responses are as follows: Reasons You Should Only Do One Thing at a Time
1. To speed up your progress
2. To improve your performance
3. To improve your finished projects
4. To help prevent anxiety
5. To help your diet – eating while watching TV or sitting at the computer can cause you to stick your hand in the chip bag or cookie jar more often that if you stopped & focused on what you’re eating.
6. To prevent having to refresh & redo
7. To help you reach your goals – multitasking prevents you from giving intentional effort to those things that are most important to you. Setting specific goals & giving them focused attention each day will help you reach your destination more quickly.
8. It’s safer to single task than multi tasking
I focused on working in the kitchen today. I wanted to get some cabinets rearranged and cleaned as well as the refrigerator and worked until they were done, rather than being interrupted checking on the laundry at the same time. Success, I didn’t have to check to see if clothes were ready to be switched to the dryer etc. and concentrated on the kitchen.
Although the day started a little hectically today and I had a few meetings I have managed to focus on the one thing I wanted: to get a clear plan of action on one of my reports I am working on for work at the moment. I have also tackled the email and information tasks today, so although I did focus on one thing at a time I seem to have got through more than I had planned – weird or what?
Hmmm – this is a tough one as I feel I am more productive when I am multi-tasking. To be fair it is usually that I am doing something while half watching TV which I think is a GOOD thing. I might try watching a movie sometime without knitting / checking facebook / emailing / decluttering paperwork just to see how it feels…
I have started my multi-tasking log.. I think it will be a long one, but focussing on one thing at a time has been amazing.
Since doing this task the first time, I’ve become pretty good at single-tasking when putting on my makeup – about 80% of the time compared to about 20% previously. It helps make my mornings calmer 🙂 I still multi-task in other areas, but I’ve become more aware of how things take longer when I do. And so there are times when I will mindfully switch to single-tasking when I can’t afford to spend extra time doing something, although sometimes I am too caught up in all the doing to remember to switch some of it off. But I think if I can continue to be aware, it will help me develop more single-tasking behaviors.
I find myself thinking about this challenge as juggling versus focus. I have to juggle tons of different things in my life (which I am in the middle of simplifying) but when I multitask too many, or multitask the wrong things then I loose focus. The challenge for me is to plan and schedule those things that need focus to cut down on the juggling and hopefully be more effective.
if I can attempt to over-simplify:
1. Work out what matters
2. Do more of that, in a focused way
3. Let everything else get crowded out.
Rinse and repeat endlessly for life. 🙂
I’ve been trying to pay attention to the times when I multi-task, and I haven’t caught myself doing any ineffective/stressful multi-tasking yet. I’ve actually been trying to come up with ways I can multi-task MORE! Like things I can do to be productive while watching tv or talking on the phone. But not soooo productive that I miss parts of Mad Men.
Good luck with that Jen. I always end up having to rewind so now when I relax, I relax. 🙂
so I didn’t get to my email yesterday and can’t read the challenge… so sad.
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I’m definitely willing to experiment with single-tasking. Multi-tasking has become so second nature that I often don’t realize when I do it. I don’t know if it’s technically multi-tasking but I will be in the middle of putting on my make-up and stop to go check if I need bread or eggs. Focusing on single-tasking will help me to be more mindful in everything I do. I’ve identified 2 areas to start with that I will focus on single-tasking. And I will pay attention to how I’m feeling when I multi-task. Tonight I set a timer to focus on what I was doing and I was distracted after 90 seconds. I re-set the timer and the second time I had success. Awareness is the first step 🙂
It really is, Ellen. I’d love to know how you go. 🙂
Here’s an update, Michele 🙂 For several consecutive days I succeeded in single-tasking* while putting on my makeup and discovered that the whole process went faster. I didn’t feel the stress I often feel when putting on makeup which can make me dread the whole ordeal. Because of this, a couple of days I took the time to put makeup on when I had not planned to! *I have defined single-tasking for myself as doing a task without physical interruption. I do tend to listen to the radio while putting on makeup, but it’s usually just background noise and/or I’m waiting to hear the weather report. But I am not jumping up and down to do other tasks as they come to mind while I’m apply my makeup, which has been my habit. I haven’t been completely successful, and I need to apply this to other areas of my life, but it’s a good start for me 🙂
That is a concept I’m not used to! but yes..I will try. I made a comment to a friend tonight that “i’m just spinning my wheels tonight not getting any thing done”-I’m going to think back to what was going tonight and focus on what I could have single tasked and been more effective.
Nice insight on to much going on and not doing one thing well. As to the comments: when cleaning and taking somwthing to another room:first you are on task…cleaning and second if you really want to finsih one room have a box for “belong somewhere else” that way you stay where you are…but them you have to clean out the box.. I finally admitted I’d have stuff to organize later or I do not ever succeed at tidying. I havea box in the garage for all the room boxes to get dumped.
Second I have way to many tabs open in my beowser but it is actually my way of not multi tasking as i can walk away and do important things for my family (prioroty 1) with out loosing progress on what ever I am doing on the computer (details of life).
Windy, I also keep a lot of tabs open and never thought of it that way – thanks! But I admit that sometimes I get distracted by a tab and stray from what I’m doing. I try to bookmark those pages but I’m afraid I’ll forget about them 🙂
When cleaning house, I multitask. I’ll start in one room, carry something into another room and suddenly I’m trying to clean that room. I’ll try to focus on one cleaning task at a time and see how it goes. When on the internet, I always have 5+ tabs up, and maybe that’s not the best way to do that either…:)
I used to do that too, Evelyn. Cleaning the house was always a stressful day for me. Now I focus on one room before moving to the next. And I don’t always do the whole house in one day. It stresses me less!
I have no choice but to multi-task. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done!
You sound stressed, Marla! You might surprise yourself with this experiment. 🙂
This is a challenge with kids. I feel as if I have to multi task (one things with the kids while doing what needs to get done). I’d love suggestions on how to avoid that.
I hear you, Lisa! I have a couple of tactics I call on. Depending on the task, I get them to help. Often they will start with great gusto, then wander off to read/draw/play when they’ve had enough of ‘helping’. Then I can really concentrate on what I’m doing. The other tip is to set them up with a great distraction before I start a task. Give them lunch, set up games outside, ask them to draw me something. These tips obviously work with little kids, so maybe others can join in and help out with older ones. 🙂 Kylie ~ Community Manager
I have never been able to multi-task effectively, so I don’t do it. I can only do one thing at a time. I will be more observant today to make sure this is really the case.