Is It Better to Focus on One Thing at a Time?

A lot gets written about multi-tasking but it’s generally not an efficient way of working.

Focusing on one thing at a time may seem as though you’re wasting time (after all, you could be doing lots of things in that same time) but it’s more a concentrated use of your time and is almost always more a productive use of it.

Multi-tasking doesn’t work

focus on one thingThink about the last time you were watching a TV show but also searching for something on Amazon. You almost certainly missed some important plot developments in the show and you probably lost your concentration on your search and had to go back through the products you found and their reviews.

The more information our mind tries to process, the more we get confused and flustered. Especially if that information is on several different topics.

Our minds are quite good at compartmentalising things – scientists know that different parts of our brain store different things.

But when we try to access too many different items, our mind goes into overload.

You can demonstrate this quickly for yourself – try to move each hand a different way from the other (one clockwise, one anti-clockwise for instance). Chances are that, no matter how hard you concentrate, they both end up moving the same way.

The same happens when you try to multi-task.

The tasks converge, even if they’re completely different. Which is why you couldn’t remember most of the show while you were searching for that must-have item.

Think back to school – unless you went to a Steiner Waldorf school, you almost had separate lessons for separate subjects. You didn’t learn math at the same time as a foreign language.

So we’ve been trained to single task since we were young.

Single-mindedness is good

Being single minded is good.

It forces you to focus on one thing and you’ll almost certainly do a better job of the task when you follow this route.

This works whether it’s a small thing you’re focusing on or a larger goal. If it’s a large goal, it’s well worth splitting it up into smaller parts so that you can give each of them your full attention at the time.

For instance, a pilot has completely different things to focus on at different times – the pre-flight checks, taxiing on the runway, the take off, the route, pre-landing checks and then the landing. All of which have smaller components but if the pilot was thinking about landing while the plane was taking off, I wouldn’t want to be on that flight.

If you’re focused on just one thing at a time, you can give it the majority of your attention. Chances are this still won’t be 100% (you’re only human) but it will be close.

And you’ll be able to spot things that would have gone un-noticed otherwise.

Use the Pomodoro technique

This is a simple technique that works well with the way our minds work.

Set a timer for 25 minutes.

Work on the task in hand – and that task alone – until the timer goes off.

Then have a 5 minute break.

Repeat that process three more times, then have a longer break. Then repeat the process 4 more times.

You’ll have spent 4 hours on the task itself but you’ll almost certainly have got more done in that time than you would if you’d been following your normal multi-tasking scheme, And you’ll still have half a day left for the other things you want to focus on.

Retrain your brain

It takes a while for our brains to learn new habits or return to old ones that worked but we gave up on. Anything from a couple of weeks to a month seems to be the range for that.

Single tasking as much as you can will help the process a lot.

And listening to a hypnosis audio can kick start the process.

It will work with your subconscious mind so that it’s on board with what you’re trying to do consciously.

And it’s easy to do – spend about 22 minutes listening to this hypnosis audio.

Do that a few times over the coming days and weeks and notice how your focus and productivity increase.