Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed or scattered? Does it feel that there are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done?
You’re not alone. This is a common concern I hear from clients. However, we live in a world where multitasking is glorified and success is measured by how much we can accomplish.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve realized my “juggling” and task-switching muscles have strengthened. As a coach, SLP, parent, wife, and an author working on my first manuscript, I wear a lot of different hats and I bet you do too. I like my hats and they are not going anywhere.
Have you felt this pull to do “easy” quick tasks rather than focus on one project that requires intense concentration? Checking off all those boxes feels good until a mistake is made, an important task is forgotten or avoided and essential tasks are still waiting for us. The feelings of accomplishment do not last long and our inner critic starts to get judgey.
There are many articles about our attention spans decreasing since the year 2000. There is truth to that statement due to the number of distractions at our fingertips and how we set up our environment. But it doesn’t have to be this way and we can strengthen our concentration skills. What if we could change this trajectory? In Gary Keller’s book “The One Thing,” he makes a compelling argument for focusing on a single task and why it has such power.
Laser Focus Beats Multitasking
Multitasking may seem like the best way to get things done quickly, but research shows that this isn’t actually the case. In reality, multiple research studies (including one from Cleveland Clinic) show that only 2-2.5% of the population are effective multi-taskers. When juggle two or more cognitive tasks at once, your focus gets divided and the end result is usually poorer quality work.
On top of that, multitasking can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression—all of which can lessen your ability to achieve a sense of completion and accomplishment. That’s why focusing on one task at a time is so important—it allows you to give each task your full attention without getting distracted by other tasks or thoughts. It is a skill and a practice!
Prioritize What Matters Most
When it comes to goal setting, it’s easy to get carried away with all the possibilities. But as Keller argues in his book, success doesn’t come from doing more things—it comes from doing the “right” thing. That means taking an honest look at your life and deciding which activities will have the biggest impact on your life overall. It is also important to determine what will realistically “fit” into your current life or how you can integrate it. Adding more to your plate is not the goal. This could mean focusing on family or career development or creative pursuits—whatever will bring you closer to achieving your goals or make life better for you and those around you. Once you have identified what matters most and how it is impactful, it becomes much easier to prioritize and stay focused on that one thing until it is complete.
Take Time To Reflect & Recharge
Focusing requires energy and concentration. I think of this as an investment of your brain dollars or cognitive currency. You will eventually need time and rest to rebuild your reserves and to recharge your batteries. Taking breaks throughout the day gives your mind time to process what you have accomplished so far and identify areas of needed improvement or further exploration before moving onto something else entirely. Taking these moments of reflection also helps you gain clarity on what actions need prioritizing. This allows you to hit the ground running when you return to your “focus mode” with renewed motivation and inspiration!
When it comes down to it, success isn’t about how much work we do; it’s about how effective your work is in helping you reach your goals quicker and easier. If you are constantly trying different things without any clear direction or focus point in mind, you may start to feel burned out or discouraged. So take some time out of your busy schedule today. Reflect on what truly matters most in order for you to achieve your goals sooner rather than later! By having laser-like focus on one thing at a time while still allowing yourself moments of reflection here and there will help ensure that all of your efforts are being directed towards reaching those ultimate objectives – no matter how big they may be!
Wishing you focus and clarity going forward,
Have you felt scattered? Do you feel that you are working hard but do not feel effective or efficient? Let’s talk. You can schedule a complimentary connection call right here.
A great reminder; I was doing some executive coaching in the past and used the ugliest frog theory; I forget where it came from. Essentially it was put the ugliest frog first, once you eat that frog you then go on to the easiest; if you don’t eat the frog it will stare at you each day and just get uglier!!
Thanks for sharing the “Eat that Frog” technique. Such a good one with a visual which is powerful! I like the idea of identifying your “optimal focus window” and then getting that frog out of your space/face when you have the bandwidth and time to focus. 😉 Mornings are best for many of us. I believe Brian Tracy shares this in his book on productivity and might have been inspired by Mark Twain. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment Joe.
Such a great post, Melissa, and a great reminder about the power of focus. I recently read that it takes our brains 23 minutes to refocus from one task to another – no wonder we feel scattered! This is something I’m definitely looking at and your post came at a good time. I’m reading “Stolen Focus” right now which I highly recommend!
Hello Cheryl, I appreciate your comment, book recommendation and pointing out the time needed to refocus… especially when technology is involved. Our phones are major distractions and are a big part of this research statistic. It really does require more time and energy to task switch and deal with interruptions. I will share more ways to increase and cultivate focus in the next article. Thanks for being part of this community!