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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Sibanda

The Art of Focus

Success is built sequentially. It's all about doing one thing at a time.



Society would tell you the opposite right? Do more and you get more done; Multitasking is a part of everyday life; The busier the better; Woman have the upper hand on men because they can multitask. There are countless adages that normalise multitasking and quite honestly it can feel like we're being more productive but the dopamine our brains release when doing so is only a temporary feeling of productivity. Once that feeling wears off, you realise you've seemingly divided your focus across multiple tasks for what?


Stanford University researcher Clifford Nass found that even when chronic multitaskers focused on a single task, they were less efficient; Nass concluded that over time, frequent multitasking actually changes the way the brain functions, leading to decreased productivity even when focused. Multi-tasking gives the illusion of competence and productivity but it is actually a detriment to your productivity. This illusion is so strong that even when we think we are multitasking, we're actually not. The brain is quite literally incapable of focusing on two things at once - it just rapidly switching between them and the attention we can give to what’s in front of us is limited. Short term it may not seem to have an effect on you but longer term, this could have a domino effect.


It's proven that multitasking is essentially switching to auto-pilot. We take longer to do tasks and are predisposed to error as we lose the ability to ignore irrelevant information, maintain train of thoughts and remember what it is we're actually doing. In every moment, our brain is flooded with information—sights, sounds, words, thoughts, to-dos, and more. It can only focus on so much. To help stay focused, we need to learn to do one thing at a time.


Now picture this, think of a successful person either in your personal, professional life or a role model. Think of their day to day and what their schedule looks like, how they set out their plans and how they allocate their time. You might notice that their ability to take action and create success is derived from their ability to focus on and complete individual tasks. A survey of 850 Knowledge Workers by Rescue Time showed that less than 5% of people actually completed just their simple everyday tasks;

If you think back to your last 'crazy-productive; day, what was your schedule like and how did you set out your plans and allocate your time? If it was actually productive, you likely weren’t doing a million things at once. Chances are you were working on just one task, and spending an inordinate amount of time, attention, and energy on it. That right there is working within that 5% - single-tasking.


Single-tasking is seemingly the opposite go multitasking. Although less stimulating for the brain, single-tasking rebuilds your focus by doing one thing at a time with as few distractions and interruptions as possible. It lets us create more attentional space around our work in the moment, which lets us think deeper, make more connections, work more creatively, and find more meaning in the work. Although our minds are ingrained to accept and continue multitasking, making a shift to single-tasking has an immediate and beneficial impact. Here are a few ways to kickstart that;


Smart Breaks: give your brain some down time. You will be more productive if, several times a day, you step away from mentally challenging tasks for three to five minutes. Get some fresh air, for example, or just look out the window. Taking a break will help make room for your next inspired idea because a halt in constant thinking slows the mind's rhythms to allow more innovative "aha" moments.


Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus entirely on the work at hand for that duration. Once the timer beeps, you may set it again for five minutes as your break time. After a 5 minute smart break, its back to focusing for another 15 minutes on your work. Each day you can add a small amount of time to how long you focus until you increase your ability to focus your energy into completing a task.


Environment Is Key. Focus deeply, without distraction - silence your phone, find a spacial work environment and try to perform just one task at a time. Giving your full attention to the project at hand will increase accuracy, innovation and speed.


Make a to-do list. Identify your top two priorities for the day and make sure they are accomplished above all else. Giving the most important tasks your brain's prime time will make you feel more productive. Or, as Boone Pickens said, "When you are hunting elephants, don't get distracted chasing rabbits."


When we multitask, we do a mediocre job of everything. Doing only one thing at a time is a surprisingly powerful way to become more productive create more success in life.

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14 comentarios


Kurt Christian
Kurt Christian
19 dic 2021

Pomodoro Technique. Wow!

I use something similar but in hour blocks, I like this...

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Henare Pukeroa
Henare Pukeroa
19 dic 2021

Love it! Smart breaks are so key to optimum performance

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Ryley Page
Ryley Page
14 dic 2021

Honestly loved the part on smart breaks! Such a fundamental part of keeping your focus narrowed


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Jamie Gartner
Jamie Gartner
14 dic 2021

Great read !

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Swathika Karthik
Swathika Karthik
14 dic 2021

Great stuff

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