Focus on one thing at a time

We are so often taught that we’re supposed to multitask. I remember when I first started in Corporate America, my boss used to say it was a necessity. I remember we used to write it on our job advertisements:

Ability to multitask a plus.

It’s ludicrous now, when you think about it. Multitasking is so hard for your brain. Your brain is not intended to focus on more than one task at once. If you’ve done it (and I know I have), you get flustered, anxiety sets in, you feel like you’re all over the place, and maybe you feel like your head’s not connected to your body. You need to focus on one thing at a time, and prioritize. One of the best tips I teach people is to chunk your day out. Make time periods as if you were back in school. When you were in school, you didn’t learn math, English, and science all at the same time! You had separate periods for each.

I have sat with clients where they’re checking their phone, texting, looking at their watch, checking their email, while at the same time talking with me about building a strategy. They’re doing five things at once! I just stop, look at them, and say,

“Okay, when you’re done, we’ll continue.”

You just can’t be fully absorbed in what you’re doing if you’re focusing on five things at once. It’s just impossible.

If you’re having a meeting with someone, and you’re talking about three different things—let’s say an event, a project, and financials—break it into sections of 15 minutes per topic. Stick to that one topic for 15 minutes, then move forward. If you start jumping around, it literally feels like a ping pong ball. When I’m in a conversation like that, my head spins and I’m like, “Whoa! Stop!” Focus on one thing at a time.

If you’re working in 50-minute increments or hour increments, you say, “Okay, I’m going to focus on my social media posts for this hour, then I’m going to take a little break, then I’ll focus on blog posts, then take a break, then I’m going to focus on my kids’ schedule, then take a break.” You’re focusing on one thing at a time. When you do that, you realize that you can actually get more done in less time because you’re focused. That’s the crux of this.

Focus is what is going to move you forward, keep you motivated and productive, and I know you’ll achieve so much more.