One thing at a time

The Key to Success

The Key to Happiness

The Key to Peace

Is this in contradiction to the requirements of this fast moving world?  The world is running, we all are facing fierce competition, the one who can achieve maximum in less time wins.

Multi Tasking (Doing several things at a time) therefore is a necessity, not a luxury. Time is too short, challenges are huge. We do not have the luxury of working at Peace, slowly doing one thing at a time.

This is the common interpretation most of us carry in today’s fast changing world.

However, if we say this is an illusion and the fact is just opposite to what we think, would any of us agree? Probably not.

In fact, if you go into the realms of mind, the notion that our output increases with multitasking seems to be a myth, not a reality.

For the purpose let us drill down to the smallest of time frame, the tiniest of moment and evaluate:

Is it possible that our mind concentrates on two things at this tiniest of moments?

Of course No, if we talk about the tiniest of moments, we are doing one task only. In Multi tasking, essentially, we are switching our mind from one task to another within few moments, and over a span of time, say two hours, we find that we have done five different works. We call it multitasking.

But in reality, we have done all these five works spread in different spans of a bunch of moments, essentially doing one thing at a moment, but switching to another task at the change of a moment. This switching may be quite abrupt , in which case we feel satisfied that we are handling so many tasks at the same time.

To go further into illustration, let us assume that these five tasks involve discussing a sales proposal, calling a client, replying to mails, guiding a subordinate on project execution and calling your spouse.

What essentially happens is that we discuss a sales proposal for 5 minutes, and then check a mail, then again start discussing sales proposal, meanwhile the subordinates comes, we start coaching him too meanwhile, a customer/ colleague calls in between and then a mail props up etc etc.

Let us instead do one thing at a time, give a complete half hour for sales proposal, reply to mails within next 20 minutes, then coach the subordinate for next 30 minutes, call your spouse for next 10 minutes etc.

What is the difference between these two strategies: Essentially it may happen that we complete these five tasks within two hours in both cases, or let us assume we finish half an hour late when we do it separately.

The difference lies in the quality of output we achieve by both these strategies.

The quality of output is much greater when we are focused on one thing at a time; simply because the mind has put its entire focus on one point continuously say for 30 minutes. Every minute moment in between is focused on a single task. Continued focus brings quality, and the output is much greater. For example, diverted attention to the sales proposal may result in the sales proposal not getting through, and hence much more time has to be invested in getting another sales proposal through, in order to meet the targets. While in the case of focused attention the probability of saving this extra time is much larger.  (In typical cases, this may even involve travelling for 2-3 days extra to get another sales proposal through).

Thus over a long term, the quality of output in case of focused attention saves you much more time, with several other advantages as well. Probably this is one of the main reasons why we find few people are successful while others , despite working hard, do not make up to this level.

We should remember that our mind always focuses on only one task at a moment. In case of multitasking, we keep switching our mind from one task to another whereas in case of one thing at a time, the continuous focus is on one task and then after completing it, and then relaxing a bit, the mind switches to another task. Immediately after switching it may take some time to concentrate on the other task, but once concentrated since the focus does not shift, the quality of output gets enhanced.

In case of frequent switching over, mind takes its own time to adjust to the new task, and most of the time before it adjusts completely we divert it to another task. Hence we have a very less quality output.

For most of us who are so much tuned to multitasking, it may seem for a while to us that concentrating on one thing at a time may not be possible. We have several urgent tasks to attend to, several subordinates seeking immediate attention, Boss giving urgent works, meeting client expectations etc.

The fact is that when we start doing one thing at a time after planning our things adequately, the emergencies reduce drastically. Once a while a emergency may crop up, and we may need to give attention to it.  But even that attention is complete, and the quality output ensures reduction of further emergencies.

Thus several other advantages crop out of this technique: A Peaceful life with very less tensions, resulting good health, better quality of life, Quality time to family and children, time for hobbies, and resulting overall satisfied and happy life.

I hope it is worth giving a try and then let us decide for ourselves.  We can even start with small sessions of 5 minutes to 20 minutes with focused attention to see for ourselves the benefits.                                 

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