Just as “being busy” does not always mean productive work, doing less does not always mean bad results.
In fact, the more we focus for longer periods of time, in one task at a time, is not even equivalent to what you can accomplish when you start 10 things at a time or trying to complete them all.
That’s because when we start something new, without completing the old task, and then start another task, none of those 3 tasks are going to be complete.
A Task Without Completion Is Like A Car Without The Driver
The more we bring tasks to completion the more we move one step closer to where we want to be and accomplish.
Let’s examine the following scenario…
If we start, lets say checking an email in the morning, and read an email with a subject line “important message” from a friend then. As you read through the message you all the sudden stop in the middle, because the dog is barking on the other room. You go to see why’s the damn dog barking and you notice that the dog wants to go out. You get the jacket and go out immediately, because you do not want the dog to make a poop in your house.
And all the sudden that friend, who sent you that email message, you couldn’t finish, calls you on the phone when you are already in the park with the dog .
That friend asks you where have you been, why you haven’t responded to the message, because it contained critical information?
You stop for a while and remember that you did not finish reading the entire message in the inbox, and now you are out with the dog. Damn!
This scenario shows that if you start something without completing it, you get nothing done. You haven’t finished reading the message, and you haven’t finished the entire trip with the dog, because you were running back to the house for something “urgent” that was mentioned in the email.
That’s just an example, but we have many of these throughout the day, and if we do not have some time aside, doing one single task at a time that’s important to us, there’s no point of even starting it in the first place.
How To Do Fewer Tasks, And Accomplish More As A Result?
Sometimes we have to do many things at a time, ok it is inevitable, because so many things require our attention. But if we stick to our core values, and know what’s important to us, we simply have to ask ourselves, “Is that activity going to help me with my current project?” If not, then we should catch ourselves on time and not doing any of those activities that aren’t serving us well.
How to do this?
1) Work For One Hour Of Uninterrupted Time – choose part of the day where you get less interruptions than usual (early in the morning or late at night). When everyone is busy, you want to schedule some of the most important tasks for your project. Ideally you want to work for one hour of uninterrupted time to get it done.
2) Take Breaks – even working on one important task for that 60 minute uninterrupted time, you want to take breaks at least for 10-15 minutes, until you get another uninterrupted period of time. Do a single task for no more than 90 minutes. Studies show that you are going to be repeating yourself, if you work more than 90 minutes straight. That’s why taking breaks is critical.
3) Start Small And Then Go Beyond – do one series of one hour of uninterrupted time, doing the most important things to you. If your time allow it, do series of one hour uninterrupted time of work throughout the day.
You may schedule for example 3 time periods throughout the day where you are less likely to be interrupted for at least 60 minutes each.
In fact, as you day starts, take aside the first 60-90 minutes as you wake up to do the work. This is when your mind is more likely to be fresh and relaxed. This is different for different people, some people feel sleepy as they wake up. Usually that’s because they were staying late at night or got little or no sleep.
Sleeping is critical, especially if you want to be more productive in the morning.
4) Creative Reasoning – this is fancy word that stands for serializing your work. That’s if you are doing some creative work (like reading, writing and speaking). If two tasks are different in context, you do not want to do them one after another. You always have to allow yourself a day of doing something else, before you switch for that part.
Example: let’s say you compose music for your video productions. If you just have finished with your voice over, you do not want to start creating music that’s going to accompany that voice over. Why? Because sometimes we lose sight of things, if we do two creative tasks in a row to get the job done, we are not going to be producing good results. Always take a night sleep before you compose the music for the voice over.
Have you wrote a sales letter, an article or a book? If you decide to read what you’ve written previously, you’ll find that it is going to be slightly different from what you previously thought . That’s creative reasoning.
So, you want to serialize all tasks that have similar nature, in order to get them done. Because when you do similar tasks repeatedly, one after another, not all at the same time, you are going to finish much faster.
5) Schedule Your Interruptions – you want to anticipate interruptions, even in those parts of the day where you believe there are not going to be many distractions. Always allow yourself more time than expected to get the job done. Simply because things always take longer than expected, and interruptions sometimes come uninvited.
If you expect interruptions, you are allowing yourself to meet them with a better attitude and respond more adequately to them: allowing smoother transition between an interruption and getting back to your work.