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Single Tasking: A Simple Idea that Produces Amazing Results

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

The Amazing Daily Log

Multi-tasking is what most of us do day-to-day. Think about it. While driving down a road you're listening to a music radio station but for the past five minutes you've only been listening to commercials. So what do you do? You change it. So for that moment you look down from the road to your radio, you change the station, and you look back up.

This may be a simple example, but you get the point. You change from task to task every day, all day. Piece of cake, right?

There are two types of multi-tasking: intentional and unintentional. Intentional multi-tasking is something that every company wants these days, as you see it when applying for jobs. As an intentional multi-tasker in the food industry, for instance, you may be at the cash register taking an order, then all-of-a-sudden you answer the phone and take a catering order, start working on that order and a minute later have to make a smoothie since you're the only one who knows how to make them, then ten seconds later get a mop to clean up a spilled soda, and then... well you get the point.

Being a good intentional multi-tasker is something that everyone wants.

But what about the unintentional multi-tasker. Being an unintentional multi-tasker is dangerous if and only if you want to succeed in life. You can tell if you are an unintentional multi-tasker if you're sidetracked easily and you're unable to focus. This is not good!

One diagnosis for this is ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder. People with ADD or ADHD lack the ability to focus for long periods of time, and are impulsive - they make decisions about how they will spend their time on the fly. They will start doing something else if what they started on has become too hard and they don't like to plan.[3695] If you're unable to focus and stay on task, then you probably will have trouble at work or working on your own. 

So... What is Single-Tasking?

Single-tasking is focusing on one task until you've completed it. This is harder than ever these days, with instant access to email, news, Facebook posts, etc. Let me tell you, nothing feels better than just vegging out, eating dinner in front of the TV after a hard day's work (Cough cough...).

By following this simple lifestyle, nothing other than working at the job will get accomplished during the week. If you have a goal, it will never get done.

If you lacked focus your entire life, don't give up hope. You can still learn how to focus. As many other people have said when it comes to developing mental ability, it is like exercising a muscle. So without further ado, I will show you what I did to start single-taskingBy the way, I'm new to this too!

Magnifying glass over the word Focus

How to Create a Daily Log

So you don't know what to do next, so what do you do? How about a lot of nothing. It is easy to start wasting time when you don't have a daily log. You may have several things on your mind that you want to do, so you do all of them. As a result, none of them get done. If this is you, keep on reading and find out how to make your self a productivity machine.

To start a daily log, you will need to get a composition book, where the pages are permanently bound. You can find one of these at your local office supplies store, dollar store, or even grocery store.

Every day you use two pages, both the left and the right. So skip the first page. The left side of your page is the to-do list. First you date it on the top left side of the page. You should really write the following day's list the night before. Every item you write on this side gets a number. If you want to prioritize this list, do it with letters.

So Lets say that you want to (or have to) do the following five things tomorrow (Saturday May 12, 2012): pay bills, mow lawn, write article, clean bathtub, and read a chapter of the book you're reading. You write it down like this:

Sat 12 May 12
1. Pay bills - A
2. Mow lawn - A
3. Write article - B
4. Clean bathtub - C
5. Read chapter of book - C

As you can see, you have a clear idea of what tomorrow's tasks are as well as their priority level.

The right side of the daily log represents the time allocation. In other words, before you start a task you need to allocate a certain chunk of your time for that task.* You write this as you're about to do each task. There are three ways you can write the right side.

With the first way, you first write the task number and the time you're starting. When you're finished with the task you write the end time. If you like you can write how long the task took to complete. You can then work on your time if you do the same task again, as you can try to beat your previous time. The first method looks like the following for task 2, mow lawn:

Before you start: 2. 12:30

After you finish: 2. 12:30 - 1:43, 1 hour 13 minutes

The second way you can go about writing up the right side is by writing the task number followed by the start time and the estimated end time (write these times down before you start). If you're estimating your stop time, you follow it by a question mark, showing that it is not the actual end time. When you finish the task, follow it by the actual end time. The second method looks like the following for task 5, read chapter of book:

Before you start: 5. 3:15 - 4:00?

After you finish: 5. 3:15 - 4:15

The third way you can go about writing the right side is by writing the task number followed by the start and end times. You can do this if the end time is absolute. So if you're going to exercise for a half hour you include both the start and end times. This method looks like the following for task 4, clean bathtub:

Before you start: 4. 5:00 - 5:30

Remember the Following

Work on only one task at a time. Once you write down the start time, you're timing yourself. If you must do something else, then end your task. Write down the end times. You should also include simple, quick, or required tasks. For instance, if you're mowing the lawn and you feel completely exhausted and need a break, take a break and include it in the time. Maybe you will find a way to avoid taking breaks in the future by improving your diet or by drinking more water. By doing this your total time for the project will decrease (improve).

Also, just use the daily log for tasks you have trouble focusing on. Do not use for every minute task like 'make sandwich', or 'get mail from mailbox' - unless of course you need to set time aside to take a trip to some distant post office box. By including minute tasks you will get caught up in the actual process of writing the daily log and spend more time then necessary to get the job done.
If required, break each task into separate blocks of time. Lets say you started a task and after an hour you need to head out to work. End the task, go to work and when you get back, allocate another block of time to that task.

I hope this article can help you in your day-to-day activities. It is easier for the day to control you than for you to control the day. Remember that your time is your time and you decide how to spend it. Time is much more valuable than money so use it wisely! By the way, if you allocate time to the same subject everyday, you're more likely to succeed in that subject. If you want to learn how to choose what you do every day, read the Habit Factor.

* Think of your day as your full budget. You spend the day's time budget no matter what you do. You can either spend your time doing random pointless things or you can spend it wisely.



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  1. David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California "Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)." PubMed Health. 2011.

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