What is productivity? Wikipedia defines it as, "the ratio of output to inputs in production; it is a measure of the efficiency of production. " We all want to make the best use of our time. We wake up in the morning with huge goals of how our time will be spent; however we foil our own attempts trying to multitask. In todays society there are times when multitasking is inevitable, but this should not be the normal way you run your schedule. In order to be highly productive, constant multitasking is a trait that many think they must posses and utilize daily. The intent of this article is to challenge that very thought. Is productivity really doing many things, or is it doing one thing well. There is power in having a single focus and hopefully I can convince you how and why.
Benefits of Having Single Focus:
1. Allows you to fully engage- "Wherever you are be there." This is a popular quote by Jim Elliott. Often times we attempt knocking one more item off the to-do, while knowing that you should be focused on the main task at hand. After all, isn't that killing two birds with one stone? To be completely present requires major discipline. Please don't misunderstand me, if a task is repetitive enough, you may be able to pair it with something else, but do this with caution. It's not always about knocking things off the to-do list, but being fully engaged in the items on the to-do list. Watching your child's sports game and checking your email at the same time may not worth it!
2. Decreases Errors- Driving is a great example. The more I focus on driving and not trying to drive and do other things the less likely my chances are of getting in an accident. I am guilty of this, as I typically eat on the go. Save yourself the hassle and just focus on the task at hand.
3. Speeds up progress- Switching between task actually takes longer than just completing one task at at time. Mental bookmarks are needed when you switch between tasks to know where you left off. This actually decreases your overall productivity.
It takes major discipline to have a single focus. Here are some tips on how you can begin your journey of single focus.
1. Prioritize- If you list by importance the projects or task that have to be accomplished, the need to multitask would be lessened. This will ensure that you are getting done the most important things.
2. Disable email notification - How many times have you been working on something and an email comes to your inbox. This can be a major distraction because many times we stop the project at hand to read and handle the email. Many email programs chime or produce some type of notification letting you know when mail arrives. The best action to take is to turn the notifications off. You will no longer be tempted to read or respond as soon as it is delivered.
3. Create Time Slots - To prevent you from being tempted to multitask, work on projects in chunks of 30 minutes (more or less depending on the task). This is the best of both worlds, it allows you to focus on one thing and gives you the assurance to know that you can go to the next task in a few minutes.
4. Adjust Phone Ringers - Let's face it, cell phones can be a major distraction to staying focus. Use your technology to your advantage. Change your phone settings to Do Not Disturb and only allow a select few calls to disrupt that time. Most phones allow you make exception lists on your DND for family and anyone else in your contacts that should always be able to reach you. Don't be a slave to your phone. Use it as a tool to help you have single focus on what matters.
There will always be emergencies that arise and things that demand our response unexpectedly, Having a single focus allows you to be more productive and in turn you will have greater margin to handle the emergencies when they show up. Good luck, I am an addict to multitasking and these principles have been a tremendous help to me. Good Luck!