One Old School Idea

School house


As children we are told “One thing at a time,” “Put one foot in front of the other,” “Baby steps!” Adults told us these things so we would not become distracted; they instructed us that focusing solely on the task at hand would allow us to do it well and therefore be successful. However, as adults, we receive the opposite message. We are told that we must be able to spin 18 plates at once in order to be an accomplished human being.  We must constantly multi-task. We must be “a jack of all trades, master of none!” When did this become a good thing?

Remember when you learned to tie your shoes for the first time? It took effort, focus and time, but when you finally did it you felt like a big kid who could conquer anything! And I’m willing to bet that while learning to tie your shoes, you were not simultaneously learning to read or count numbers. It would behoove us slow down and handle one issue, problem, task, person at a time just like when we were children.

4 Ways to Thwart Multi-tasking

1. Schedule: School works well because one block of time is scheduled for one subject and that is all that you need focus on in that time. In fact we got in trouble if we dared discuss our English project in Math class, right? Even if you don’t put it on the calendar, block off time for whatever it is that you wish to accomplish and limit/eliminated distractions.

2. Prioritize: Accept that you cannot do everything at once.  This does not make you a failure! You can still do nearly everything that you want, but you must prioritize. Decide what is most important to you and apply it to the schedule accordingly.

3. Edit: Get rid of a few things. Be honest there are some tasks that you have taken on so other people will like you. Whether it’s personal or professional, it’s OK to say no and expect others to do their job.

4. Pay full attention: When you are working on your task or talking to other humans give your full attention. There is nothing worse than someone who is trying to answer a question while they are watching TV or checking their email. And you cannot read that book or learn that lesson while you are texting. Respect your task or person at hand enough to give them not only your time, but your full attention. It really does make all the difference.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steven Satzger
    Apr 02, 2013 @ 15:36:41

    I think there’s a concurrent problem going on. We are trained to only pay attention for 30 seconds at a time nowadays. We need online news headlines and quick video snippets. If I send out instructions, I have to keep it to a brief paragraph or two or else nobody reads it. We need a reminder that patience and persistence are part of the antidote to multitasking.


  2. Vernee
    Apr 17, 2013 @ 15:33:57

    Steven, I totally agree.


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