TLDR: Focusing on one task at a time results in higher productivity, lowers stress levels and makes you happier.

“The quickest way to do many things is to do one thing at a time.” – Christopher Westra

You can achieve almost anything in life if you focus on achieving one thing at a time. Single-tasking, the process of focusing on one task at a time, results in higher quality results in more quickly.

Multitasking, the process of trying to do more than one thing at once, is more stressful and less productive. The world we live in is obsessed with getting more done. But when we aim to do more with multitasking, we end up doing less. And don’t just take our word for it.

According to a 2010 Harvard study, we spend 46.9% of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re doing. And this mind-wandering habit typically makes us unhappy.

Focus on the Thing You Should Do

We totally get that bouncing between different tasks keeps things fresh and exciting. It feels fun but it doesn’t benefit you. And, the more you allow yourself to multitask, the more it becomes the norm.

Focusing on one task for a long period of time is difficult, especially with smartphones by our sides most of the time. But practising single-tasking can help to rebuild your focus and attention span.

As Gary Keller, the author of The ONE Thing, put it — you should forget about the things you could do and focus on the things you should do — the ones that matter most.

10 Benefits of Single Tasking

  1. Single-tasking conserves energy.
  2. Single-tasking improves productivity.
  3. Single-tasking increases commitment.
  4. Single-tasking promotes self-discipline.
  5. Single-tasking strengthens us against distractions.
  6. Single-tasking improves our attention span.
  7. Single-tasking makes us happier.
  8. Single-tasking improves our communication.
  9. Single-tasking improves our relationship.
  10. Single-tasking gives us an advantage.

Source: Power of Positivity

Single-tasking can also make you more creative. It forces you to dig deeper and find results.

It’s less stressful and you’re more likely to get into a state of flow which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as the “secret to happiness”.

How to Wean Yourself Off Multitasking

The Five-Hour Rule

We know the benefits of single-tasking and that the human brain is not built for multitasking. So, how do you wean yourself off it?

Here are six ideas.

  1. Go for a walk without listening to music.
  2. Don’t check your emails during meetings.
  3. When working, focus on a single task at a time.
  4. Move your phone to another room.
  5. Close your email and social media and turn off notifications. Have set times to check these.
  6. Take regular breaks.

To help you to take regular breaks, you might want to try out the Pomodoro technique which involves working for 25 minutes followed by a five-minute break.

Then after four pomodoros (sessions), you step away from your desk and take a longer break of around 20 minutes.

You should benefit from increased productivity, better time management and strengthened focus and motivation.

Final Thoughts

Most of us know it’s better to focus on one thing at a time but still end up doing multiple things at once. When we try to multitask, we end up killing our productivity, becoming more stressed, and ultimately less happy. We get more done when we slow down.

Single-tasking takes effort and energy but can benefit you professionally, personally and spiritually. To do it successfully you need to take regular breaks and you may consider going for a walk which, if you read last week’s post, can work wonders for your concentration and mood.

Try focusing on one task at a time and start reaping the benefits.

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Related: How to Focus and Get More Done!