3 Steps to Single-Tasking Habit


Getting into a habit of single-tasking.

We’d encounter people who say they are multi-taskers. I, for one, was one of them, until the day I realized that I’m just fooling myself. Trying to do 2 tasks simultaneously is neither effective nor efficient. I will explain why it is not, and how to start being more effective. We’d better be single-tasking.

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The real story on single-tasking?

We always are single-tasking. Multi-tasking has nothing to do with your ability to do multiple stuff at the same time. You may think you are handling 2 things, say speaking to your friend and driving your car, you are actually still single-tasking. When there is unusual activity on the road you will be focused on the road and hear nothing that your friend say. Which means that multi-tasking is all about your focus. You cannot focus on two things at the same time.

Distraction-free environment for better focus
Distraction-free environment for better focus

What’s more?

According to studies, when you switch between the tasks your brain needs some extra time to adjust to the new thing. This also applies to small distractions. Therefore, keeping the distractions to the minimum is in your best interest.
Microsoft employees reported that just the distraction by an email shift their focus where it took them 15 minutes to regain their focus on the job. Source.


So, what to do?

Single tasking works. If you are a ‘multi-tasker’ you would need to take smaller steps to make single-tasking or focusing on one thing a habit. So, here’s what I came with to overcome that obstacle.

1. Declutter before you start your work
2. Write a to do list
3. Set a timer. (pomodoro method)


to do list for better single-tasking
To-do list

Clean environment can improve productivity by 5%

If you are person who is easily distracted by external stuff, you should definitely tidy up your working area. Anything can trigger the tendency for distraction. So, make sure your working area is cleared off of all the stuff that you won’t be needing in certain amount of time.

To-do lists organize your work

Once you cleared your physical space, it is time for mental space ‘cleansing’. Write all the stuff in your mind down to a paper or notebook. This is also good for building the daily goals. You just need to have a to-do list. It is even better if you note a certain amount of time for the tasks you decided to do that day.

Designated amount of time is like a peer pressure..?

Well, if you did the 2nd step, you now have time limit to finish your work. Now, in our competitive nature, we’ll try to beat that time and try to finish before the alarm. Anyhow, it will be a win-win situation. If you beat it, you have extra time for yourself, if you don’t, well, there’s few more minutes.

Pomodoro timer
Pomodoro timer

Pomodoro method

You can very well use pomodoro method. Which, apparently, is setting 25/5 minutes for work/break time, respectively. After 4th pomodoro, which makes 2 hours, you’d get 20 minute of break. This method is based on the fact that we are able to focus on one thing for 25 minutes. Yet, some stuff can take more than 25 minutes, so I think I’d be okay to alter the ratio, like 50 minutes of work and 10 minutes of rest. Additionally, keep in mind that reviewing your work is also included. So, when you decide how many pomodoros you’d need to finish the project, keep that in mind, as well.


What if you calculated it all wrong?

Most of the time, I end up needing more time than I thought. That’s why I recommend not to be hard on yourself, and give yourself a reasonable time limit. Like, if you want to finish the job in 1 hour, better make it one and half hours, just to have extra more minutes, just in case. After all, a small distraction can cost us 15 minutes, and life is not waiting for us to finish our tasks.

Making it a Habit
Making it a Habit

Make it habit?

I’m sure you’ve also heard that for something to become a habit we need to do it for 21 days. Some say it’s 40 days, others say it’s 66 days. Well, the more you keep doing it the better, right? I bet once you see the productivity efficiency go up, you will be doing this ‘ritual’ voluntarily.

Let me know how your experience went with these steps.
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