Do all things you are required to do but one at a time. I am guilty sometimes of not following this myself. Focus on each nitty-gritty, give every stage of the work your best touch, and when it’s done, enjoy the satisfaction of having completed that one thing properly. Then, move on to the next.
We all know it feels great to multitask but does multitasking the way we understand it – doing many things at once – really happen? Does our mind process two things together or does it switch between the two very quickly? Ancient philosophers and modern neuro-biologists agree on one thing – human beings are not capable of doing multiple things at the same time. The term ‘multitasking’ was coined for computers. In fact, the word ‘multitask’ first appeared in a paper published by IBM in 1965, to describe the capabilities of IBM System/360.
So, what’s the outcome of human multitasking? We can’t go deep into any of the multiple tasks we are trying to accomplish and, in fact, we run the risk of forgetting something crucial in the process.
The mantra of one thing at a time may not sound appealing because the idea is not stimulating enough. Also, there will always be the anxiety of pending things, when each needs to be done ‘just now’. Despite all of that, doing one thing at a time delivers better productivity and more satisfaction without stress, besides improved quality on account of your complete attention, time, and energy. Once you get used to it, no pressing work remains pending or unattended. In fact, you find more meaning in your work and your creativity and attentiveness improve. You don’t have those ‘crazy’ days anymore.
Consider this: We humans will always be allured by technology – to be glued to a device while we eat, to make a call while we drive, to check our mail while we attend meetings, and it has reached a stage where we don’t even find anything wrong with it. Extending the same to work, we keep doing several things together and feel great. We’re so busy. But, are we? Besides, will it not cause burnout too soon if we don’t change something? Beyond ourselves, we subject our teammates also to the same culture by our demands like instant responsiveness to emails and many more.
It is a fact that you cannot avoid interruptions altogether while doing one thing at a time but you can adapt to them while sticking to the task at hand. Also, you cannot be perfectly focused all day but by doing one thing at a time, you are consciously avoiding distractions and that, in effect, improves your focus.
There is an old saying: Anything worth doing is worth doing well. The spiritually inclined would approach it as the oneness of existence by becoming one with the task at hand. Whichever way you look at it, one thing is certain – once you master this mantra of doing one thing at a time, you will achieve peace of mind and the satisfaction of having completed each task in the best way possible.