The Power of One: Mono Tasking
May 3, 2007
Ananga in Productivity

iStock_onel.jpgProductivity. Is it how much you get done, or how well you do it that matters to you? In other words, are you looking at quantity, quality, or both?

If quality output is your consideration you might like to play with the idea of mono-tasking.

In a world where many of us are getting driven crazy by having so much to do that we feel like we have to do it all at once, there is great pleasure to be found in the mono-task.

What does that mean? It means committing to doing one thing at a time and with your full attention. It means “I am doing this; and only this”.

It doesn’t necessarily mean your productivity slows down either, because your brain will love it.

Do you remember when you first learned to drive a car and all the things that you do automatically now when you are driving were a stream of multi-task challenges? Put your foot on the clutch, put the car in first gear, squeeze the gas, check your mirrors aaargh!

That “aaargh” effect is what many of us are dealing with daily when we need to get this, this, this and… this done.

Mono-tasking is the antidote. It’s good old-fashioned application and attention in action.

How to Mono-Task and Give Yourself a Break

Pick one thing. And do it until it’s done. If it’s a big thing you may have to do it in stages, that’s OK. Just don’t do it while you’re doing other things.

If you are checking your mail, then check it and do nothing else. Check it efficiently without clicking around at loads of links, talking on the phone etc etc. Just check your mail and have it be done. I bet it takes you a lot less time than usual.

If you need to talk to someone on the phone, then talk to them, really engage with them and give them your full attention. People know when you’re distracted and it doesn’t feel nice. Your attentive conversation will be more focused and specific, possibly briefer than a distracted call, and definitely more pleasant for you and the other person involved.

Single-minded, unadulterated attention increases the quality of the activity at hand and saves mental energy.

And now to your health. If you commit to doing only one thing at a time when eating and sleeping your body and brain will really thank you for it.

Your stomach cannot digest your food properly if you’re reading, watching TV, rushing around, or in a meeting. To maintain healthy digestion, eating has to be a mono-task.

And the same goes for getting good quality sleep. Going to bed with a pad and pen or a head full of things you feel you should be doing will affect the quality of your sleep. Sleeping is a commitment to your body and your mind. If you settle down with an attitude of acceptance that you need to rest fully and completely you will sleep better. And when you sleep better you can get more done - but only one thing at a time!

“When walking, just walk. When sitting, just sit. Above all, do not wobble.”
Zen master Umon

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