Easing my way back into your favourite section of my blog, today I’m going to talk about prioritising, but not as you know it.
It’s no secret that we all have too many things on our minds. And, as it seems impossible to do them all one at a time, we try to combine them together. We often call this multi-tasking: the idea being that we can successfully perform two tasks simultaneously. Some consider this the pinnacle of efficiency and productivity. Unfortunately, it’s overrated, and sometimes downright dangerous.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that what we think of as multitasking is actually rapid task switching. We move our attention between tasks so fast that they start to blur into one. But most of the time, this just means that we do both of them badly. (This does not include things done on autopilot that don’t require your attention; many of us can successfully walk and talk at the same time.) This often leads to a drop in productivity instead of the anticipated gain.
What works better is what some call ‘single-tasking’: focusing on one task at a time and performing them sequentially. This gives each task your undivided attention, increasing accuracy, and often increasing efficiency.
On a larger scale, we may be tempted to multitask our goals. How many of us decide to start a new exercise regime, go for that promotion, and learn a new language all at once? Almost inevitably, such targets will conflict, and we often find ourselves failing to achieve any single one.
So next time you set a goal, big or small, make it your only one. Target it with your laser-sharp focus, and give it your all, without the distraction and disruption of other goals. Say to yourself: ‘The one thing I want to achieve today/this week/this month/this year is…’