One thing at a time.
That’s my new motto. Why? Well, because lately I’ve been doing much more than one thing at a time, and let me tell you, doing more than one thing at a time (a.k.a. multitasking) is not God’s best for me. It’s not God’s best for any of us. Because God designed us and our brains to single task, not multitask. And when we attempt to do two or more things at a time, our brains become overloaded and they tire out quickly.
After preparing for and recording episode 88 of the Encouragement for Real Life Podcast that dropped this week, I decided to get serious about stopping the madness of multitasking. Because what I learned made me nervous. It woke me up to the reality of how I’ve been living and functioning on a daily basis is not healthy for me or my brain. I invite you to take a listen to this episode to find out more. It was both encouraging and alarming to me.
One thing at a time is the best way to live.
A startling statistic that came from that episode continues to motivate me to live the one-thing-at-a-time kind of life. Many of us were taught in order to get more done, we needed to do more than one thing at a time. Many of us are still living under this false notion. It’s now proved that this is no longer true. And get this! Multitasking causes us to make more errors, and it taxes our brains much more than if we completed one task at a time. Plus, it’s less effective and more time consuming! Studies now show that multitasking takes as much as 40% more time to complete a task than doing one thing at a time. 40%!
That’s crazy, isn’t it?
Ever since the airing of this episode, I’m taking small steps daily to do one thing at a time and to focus on living this way. Here are some that have helped me. Maybe they will help you, too?
How I’m learning to do one thing at a time:
1. Begin my day asking God to help me do just one thing at a time.
Because I need His help. I can’t begin to tackle this on my own.
2. Right out of bed I begin practicing and starting my day doing just one thing at a time.
This gets me in the habit right away. That may be making my tea, or starting a load of laundry, or playing my daily round of Wordle. I used to do all of these three at once, now I separate them out. It’s freeing to do one thing at a time!
3. Keep the reminder “one thing at a time” in front of me throughout the day.
I have a sticky note on my computer to remind me, one on my bathroom mirror, and I added a lock screen to my phone. I created it and it’s free under my Resources tab on my site. You can find it here, download it, and use it, too! Plus I created a few more fun “one thing at a time” tools to help over there as well. Check them out here.
4. Set time blocks.
Working on a project or a task, I set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes, and I completely focus on that task. When the timer goes off I take a break for a few moments. I’ll either go back to that task for another 20-30 minutes, for if I feel I need to so something else, I’ll switch to that, instead. This has been a great help to stop the madness of multitasking.
5. Give myself grace.
If I find myself reverting to my old ways of multitasking, I don’t beat myself up or allow myself to feel defeated. Because overcoming this long-time habit takes time. So, I just stop, take a breath, and choose to do just one of the many things I was attempting to do at the same time. Then I write the rest down to do later. Again, it’s all about progress, not perfection.
These six steps have helped me immensely, even in just a week’s time. I’m not expert at this yet, but I’m making progress. I can tell I feel freer, my brain feels less overloaded and taxed, and my body is much less stressed!
I invite you to begin where you are.
And just start doing one thing at a time. You’ll soon realize if multitasking is a habit or not, and it may be something you aren’t aware of at this point. This will make you aware, that’s for sure!
Give yourself some grace, learn what works for you, and feel free try any of the above. I’m learning and I’m willing to share all I’m learning with you. I’m glad we get to walk this path together!
Have a great one-thing-at-a-time kind of day!
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