How Focusing On One Thing At A Time Will Increase Your Productivity

  • 11 min read
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Multitasking is a myth!

Your brain can only fully focus on one thing at a time, so trying to multitask is basically pointless.

When you try to concentrate on several things at once, your brain is simply switching focus from one task to the next, which slows your progress and gives you the illusion that you’re accomplishing more.

To break this illusion and increase your productivity, you need to complete one task at a time.

Studies have shown that people who multitask often are 40% less productive than those who do not. They also have increased stress and even experience a 10-point drop in their IQ, which is equivalent to not getting any sleep for one night.

The side effects associated with multitasking do not seem worth it to me because accomplishing more is the main reason for multitasking in the first place. So, why bother doing more at once if it equals to accomplishing less?

The more tasks you attempt to juggle at once, the faster your brain switches from one thing to another. This is why you find it difficult to have a conversation while the radio is blasting your favorite song or why driving while arguing on the phone can be detrimental to your safety and the safety of other drivers.

Consider what you just read from this perspective, the brain operates like a printer. It cannot print two different documents at the same time. Instead, it creates a queue to successfully process the first document before moving on to the next.

Here’s another example of how the brain works; trying to focus on multiple tasks at once is like switching from app to app on your phone without completing why you opened the apps in the first place.

Why Is It Important to Focus on One Thing at a Time?

A research was conducted to understand the effects multitasking has on the brain. The results highlighted that the brain filters information to help us concentrate on what we’re paying attention to. However, it doesn’t function properly when given too many tasks. It’s limited to fully using one sense at a time.

This simply means that if you’re listening to music with lyrics while reading a book, at some point, your brain will choose which one it’s going to concentrate fully on.

Another great example of this is eating while watching TV. 

This example is from my personal experience. I’m the type of person who cannot concentrate on watching anything on TV while I’m eating, especially when the food is delicious. I find myself zoning out from one thing and paying more attention to the other, which means me zoning out from the TV and paying more attention to my food.

This is the brain switching focus and giving priority to one task over the other.

Personally, I abhor TVs in restaurants. I believe they’re a terrible idea because it robs the diner of the experience of being present with whomever they’re dining with, and it also promotes distractions.

But, this is the world we live in.

Society, mainly the media, has filled our environment with millions of different distractions and encourages you to journey down the endless rabbit holes they’ve created, knowing that it will rob you of your brain, memory, and productive power.

Let’s look at an example of the one thing you make certain you always have with you … your phone.

You pick up your phone to text your friend that you’ll be ten minutes late. When your screen unlocks, a notification pops up and alerts you to an email you were desperately waiting for.

After you’ve read and replied to the email, you open Instagram. Ten minutes later, you exit the app and set down your phone, completely forgetting why you picked it up in the first place.

Two minutes later, when it hits you, you grab your phone again in an attempt to text your friend when … another notification pops up, and you open it. Before you know it, you’re back down the rabbit hole again.

This happens about three more times before you successfully message your friend and finally complete your first task.

This example is true for so many people, you included.

A research conducted in 2019 showed that Americans pick up their phones 96 times per day. This is a validation of how distracting your phone is when it’s in front of you with the notifications turned on while you’re trying to complete other tasks.

You are not to blame for constantly falling for these endless cycle traps; our environment makes it difficult not to get sucked into the distractions.

However, to maximize your potential in achieving any goal, the only way to stay on course and successfully cross that finish line is to have a laser-beam-like focus.

Nothing else should matter during the time you’ve set aside to complete your goal.

Give your brain one thing to focus on, and that goal will become a reality in no time.

This is the process you should implement in your life to achieve your goals and dreams.

Your energy is limited, so trying to cram more things in your schedule will only cause unnecessary anxiety and rob your feelings of accomplishment every day.

“What you stay focused on will grow.”― Roy T. Bennett

The Secret of Productivity

What you practice will become a habit. The more you practice focusing on one goal at a time, the easier and more natural it will become.

If you’re having problems focusing on one thing at a time, you need to identify the things that are distracting you and eliminate them.

Distractions are the main cause of a lack of focus, so if you want to be more productive, you’ll need to:

  • Limit distractions.
  • Prioritize your daily tasks so you can accomplish them one by one instead of throwing everything on your list at once.
  • Schedule your day.
  • Prioritize the most important tasks, and list them according to deadlines.
  • Break long-term goals into smaller, manageable goals.

Here are four tips on how to get started with maximizing your time:

1. Jot It Down Now, Organize Later

Since the brain is always working and thinking of things to do, make it easier on yourself and jot down whatever pops up as soon as they enter your mind.

Keeping a small notebook handy will help you to keep track of what you’re thinking throughout the day, which will eventually help you create your to-do list to accomplish those tasks.

By writing down your thoughts, there will be less of a chance that you’ll forget what it is you’re supposed to do next.

2. Create a To-Do List

If you have a busy workday planned and multiple items to take care of, create a to-do list so you can prioritize what needs to be done first.

You already know what needs to be on your to-do list after jotting down the tasks your brain kept reminding you about.

Having a to-do list will help you keep track of your daily tasks, prioritize, and achieve them one by one instead of adding more stress to yourself by trying to accomplish too many things at once.

As you’ve just learned, trying to accomplish more things at once will leave you exhausted and unproductive.

3. Eliminate Nonessential Tasks

Although it may be hard to believe, some tasks we complete each day are not essential for us to get through the following day. Yet many people complete these nonessential tasks as essentials.

If it’s more important to you to have a lunch break than it is to comb your hair, especially when working from home, go and have that lunch. The food will revitalize your body more than that hair combing will.

Nonessential tasks drain your energy, which will leave you less focused on the important things that need to get done. Don’t allow yourself to prioritize nonessential tasks during essential work time since those tasks can be completed at any other time.

4. Schedule Your Day

Scheduling your day will make sure you accomplish the things that need to get done.

When is it best for you to complete certain tasks?

What needs to be done first, second, and third?

When are your peak hours, and what tasks will you complete during those hours?

By creating a schedule, you’re able to keep track of all your essential tasks and understand when it’s time to pause, take a breather, or move on to the next.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.”― Zig Ziglar

How to Focus on One Project at a Time

When it comes to productivity, there are no shortcuts or easy ways out. Focus and dedication are the only way to get you where you want to go.

Even though this process may sound very time-consuming, it will become a habit over time, and things will flow more effortlessly.

This is the Secret Formula for Productivity:

  1. Tackle one goal at a time.
  2. Eliminate distractions and nonessential tasks that drain your energy.
  3. Focus 100% on completing the goal you chose to work on.
  4. Prioritize and schedule your day with a to-do list.
  5. Utilize the Pomodoro Method to assist you in staying focused and productive (more on this below).

How to Manage Your Time

Time management will be your number one aid with focusing on one thing at a time.

When you’ve set aside dedicated time for your project, you’re signaling to your brain that the scheduled time is for doing just that, focusing and completing your chosen activity and nothing else.

We usually have a hard time getting things done because we are constantly being interrupted by distractions. This is not necessarily our fault. It’s just the way life is.

We’re surrounded by technology that makes it impossible to concentrate on any one thing for too long without being distracted or interrupted in some way.

This is where time management techniques like the Pomodoro Technique and the Ivy Lee Method come in handy.

The Pomodoro Technique is based on the idea that people can only work productively for a limited time. Then, they need to rest before they can return to their original productivity levels.

On the other hand, the Ivy Lee Method is narrowing your tasks to only six tasks per day. This means that instead of having an endless list of tasks for each day, you’ll prioritize and tackle the six important ones.

To learn more about these time management activities to help you manage your time, click here.

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate, and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”― Paulo Coelho

You Can Achieve Anything if You Focus on One Thing

Do yourself a favor and work with the flow of your body and your brain.

Going against how your brain naturally operates will only delay your personal growth and development progress and just cause a lot of unnecessary headaches.

Give yourself permission to fully commit and go all-in with any activity that you’re working on. Dedicate the necessary time and attention to get it done, and then enjoy your well-deserved break after finishing, so you can recharge for the next thing.

Utilize the tips above to maximize your time and become more productive.

It’s vital to understand that although we have twenty-four hours in a day, we don’t need them all for our projects to be highly productive.

“When you want something with all your heart, the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”― Paulo Coelho

 

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Jody

Jody is a creative writer, artist, graphic designer, and a digital nomad who also helps people live more fulfilling lives by finding creative solutions to their personal growth and development problems and lifestyle challenges.

2 thoughts on “How Focusing On One Thing At A Time Will Increase Your Productivity”

  1. Ayyye Cherie

    THIS was so right on time!!!

    With my consistent wondering from project to project state of mind and many unpredictable distractions aka absolutely everything else happening in world, now more then ever it seems so hard to get anything productive done. Lately, I have been practicing writing down my daily task and giving each task a window frame of time to be completed. Looking at all my checked off items at the end of the day feels so rewarding. Although, it has been hard to stay on top of this daily, I am getting better. Thank you for sharing even more tools I can utilize to really master staying focus and on track!

    1. Jody

      Ayyyeee!! This makes me so happy! I’m happy that I was able to help your journey along. Remember to take it easy and don’t be too hard on yourself, one checkmark means progress so you’re moving forward! I’m rooting for you!!!

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