Do one thing at a time

We have so many things to work on at any given time. At work we have to take care of multiple priorities at the same time, at home we are constantly trying to balance our priorities between our family, friends and passions and often we try to do all of these simultaneously. We think multitasking is helping us do more. In fact there are Corporations that are providing training to their employee on how to multitask. But can we really do many things at one time? Is multi-tasking possible?

A man multitasking

Multitasking does not work, not just for me; there is research to support that humans cannot multitask. When I try to work on multiple things at the same time my productivity drops and so does the quality of the work I am doing. So why not just do one things at a time. These are some benefits of not multitasking:

Save time by not switching tasks: When you try to work on multiple projects simultaneously, you will have to switch between tasks, often at points when they have not reached a logical conclusion. When you get back to doing the same task again, you will likely have to spend time to refresh your memory and build momentum. Many people thing computers can multitask but the fact is computers with one CPU (i.e. computers with one brain) cannot multitask. They create an illusion of multi-tasking by quickly switching between tasks. Computers with multi core CPUs can multitask as there is essentially more than one brain (unfortunately we only have one brain).

Delegate: In order to focus on one thing at a time, you will have to learn to prioritize and delegate. When I started with The Money Mail, I tried doing all the things by myself, and often simultaneously! So any given point I would be writing an article, composing an email to request a guest post opportunity, reading articles, exploring collaboration opportunities with advertisers etc. But then I started delegating tasks to a virtual assistant and then to a full-time assistant.

Helps improve concentration: When you select one task or project to complete, you can focus on the task and sideline all others as distraction. This will help improve your concentration and help you complete projects sooner.

Create space for creativity: Trying to think about multiple projects or tasks simultaneously seriously kills creativity. I have experienced this personally, the mind start focusing on the mechanical aspects of the task rather than the qualitative aspects. When you stop trying to multitask, you give yourself the ability to think creatively about the project you are working on.

Work on your strengths: Everyone is better when they can use their strengths. When you learn to delegate, you will opportunities to work on projects when you can use your strengths. This will help improve the quality of the work you do and will help you get recognition.

So the next time you think about multi-tasking, be sure you are not fooling yourself. Instead try doing one things at a time and see if the results surprise you.

Does multitasking work for you? Do you try to do one thing at a time or do you try to multi task?

photo by: ryantron.

4 thoughts on “Do one thing at a time

  1. Kim@Eyesonthedollar February 6, 2013 at 4:23 am

    I am a huge multitasker. Always have been. I don’t know how to not be. I think I can prioritize and finish the things that are on a deadline, but if I don’t have at least two or three things going at once, it seems strange.

    • Rohit February 12, 2013 at 3:47 am

      I think some people can pull off multi-tasking or are conditioned to be working on multiple things in a way that it feels like one task.

  2. Justin@TheFrugalPath February 8, 2013 at 2:09 am

    I agree that multitasking reduces productivity. However, there are times when it must be done.
    Studies have also shown men to be worse at it than women. Most likely because they had to run the household and raise the children.

    • Rohit February 12, 2013 at 3:48 am

      I have to see those results. I always thought that to be an urban myth.

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