“I’m a great multi-tasker” said everyone who’s ever interviewed anywhere. What I have realized over time is that multi-tasking is actually a huge waste of time, in most cases. There have been countless days where I’ve started out the day with good intentions of accomplishing my long list of to-do’s, only to find that at the end of the day, I’ve accomplished about 30-50% of every task and never 100% of anything. Not only did I not accomplish what I wanted to, it also creates stress on my mind. That’s when I realized that I needed some major restructuring in my mindset.
As someone who is a digital marketing consultant, health & wellness blogger, and spin teacher, I feel like I’m constantly working on different projects. Sometimes it’s a playlist, sometimes it’s writing a blog post, sometimes it’s creating marketing & sales decks – mix in a hundred emails, and…you get the picture! I know my story is not unique though, and that many of you also have several different responsibilities in your day.
Here are some tips on how you can “single-task”, feel good about what you’re accomplishing and increase your productivity and happiness:
Do not disturb
This one is an obvious one that took me a while to learn. As someone who gets Instagram notifications, has several different email addresses linked to my phone, is in group chats, etc. I get the “ding” noise constantly going off. I learned to actually use the DND setting on my phone so that I’m not constantly feeling the need to check my phone, breaking my concentration.
The time cube* pictured, which I learned about from The Skinny Confidential, has been really helpful in keeping me on track. When you have a million things to do, don’t try to attempt them all at once. Give yourself a specific time increment – 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes – to complete a task. If you need more time, you can always reset the timer but this way at least your mind will know that, when you set the timer for 5 minutes – you cannot work on any other task, except for the one at hand. If you want to write a blog post, if you want to clean your house, ask yourself how long that will take you, set this timer, and then get working!
Take a walk
When you find your mind drifting, don’t fight it. It usually means you need the mental rest. Try changing your environment. Changing your environment will increase your productivity when you come back. Go walk outside, walk around your building, do something active for 5 minutes to reset and recharge your brain.
Create a manageable to-do list
When the to-do list is too long, that in itself creates anxiety. Since there’s so much to get done, we’ll have the tendency to want to try and do as many of those tasks as possible. Rather than creating a long list, try creating a priority list. A priority list is a list of “must do” tasks that is much shorter – try to keep this manageable at 2 or 3 tasks. Write down tasks, where if you think back on your day, at the end of the night, you will feel proud that you have accomplished these.
Single-tasking in all aspects of your life, whether that is work obligations, spending time with family and friends, reading a book – this all requires our dedicated and devoted attention. When you’re at work, don’t think about your household errands. When you’re with friends, try not to scroll through Instagram. When you’re reading a book, turn off the TV.