You can practice multi tasking or you can be efficient and effective. Unfortunately, that’s the way it works. You can either try to do several things at once and wind up feeling stressed, with things that never seem to be done or you can focus all your energy on one thing at a time, take the time to pay attention to details, get the task done and move on to the next. I find that the first option is less effective, especially when I am busy and have multiple priorities with hard deadlines.
So, as you move into 2019 and take the steps to achieve your goals and your big dreams I recommend that you practice focused action as part of your daily work habits. You may not always have long periods of time that you can dedicate to one task at a time and that is okay. The secret is not in the length of time that you have available. Instead it is in the quality of your focus. Being able to give undivided attention to something, even just for short periods of time, will enhance your creativity, ability to think clearly and your speed as well as accuracy.
Over the last year, I have used this style of working repeatedly to get me through my high pressure periods. I have found that the more pressing deadlines you have to achieve, the more important it is that you are able to do focused work.
When I am operating in this way, I choose not to let myself get distracted by thinking about everything else that I need to do. Instead, I use my scheduling technique to ensure that everything is allocated a time slot for attention and focus. This means that when I am working on one thing, I am not thinking about something else that needs to get done at another time. I am no longer distracted by it. I can put it out of my thoughts because I know that there is going to be an identified time to focus on it later.
Using this approach can take practice, especially if this has not always been your way of using your mind and working on tasks. If I find that my mind is repeatedly getting distracted by ideas that relate to a project other than what I am working on at that time, I take a moment to note it down and then I get back to what I am dealing with at that time.
You may also find yourself in a situation where you are being bombarded by thoughts of something that isn’t your priority right now. You could find it helpful to spend some time working on that unscheduled work especially if not doing so is getting in the way of you meeting your deadline. If you find that you cannot get the ideas to flow about one project, because your mind is so excited about another one, it can be helpful to spend some time focused on brain-dumping all your ideas about the other project, just so that you can get back to your prioritized item. This way you will already have some good starters when you come to that new project and you will no longer be hindering your brain’s natural creativity.
Therefore, my recommendation is to develop your skills in focusing on one thing at a time. However recognize that your ability to be effective can take some time to master. Be gentle with yourself, forgive your little slips, learn the lesson and move on.
In addition, identify the conditions that you need in order to be most effective and try to operate in those parameters whenever you can. I often need music when I am trying to be creative and absolute silence causes me to get drowsy. However, I know people who cannot operate with any noise around them and I know others that do their best thinking outdoors or in a beautiful indoor setting. You need to be able to identify what conditions you need in order to do your best concentration. Being able to operate in conditions that support you will enhance your ability to most productive.
So get on it, start practising more focused work and get more done every day.
Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach who works with individuals and organizations to help them improve their performance. She is based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. For more of her writing visit https://marjoriewharton.live