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Does Doing One Thing at a Time Really Help You Get Things Done Effectively?

By May 5, 2018Post

For a long time, multitasking has been viewed as the best and most efficient way to get things done. People who were able to multitask were considered to be hardworking and to be in control’ because they could juggle tasks effectively.

More recently, however, mono-tasking has become the new desired character trait. According to Professor Gloria Mark of the University of California, if you get distracted from a task, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back into the flow. How much time do you find yourself wasting because of 23-minute chunks of interruption and ‘context switching’?

The Value of Doing One Thing at a Time

Doing one thing at a time can help you to focus. There’s evidence to suggest that the information overload that exists on the web today is harmful to the way that our mind works. It is possible to become addicted to social media, and when we’re flipping through Facebook and swiping through Instagram, we’re feeding our brains with short bursts of entertainment that make it harder to focus on other tasks.

Those in favor of multitasking may feel that it makes you seem more productive. However, those who do one thing at a time tend to get things done more efficiently and get more done too.

With monotasking, it’s possible to focus on one task and get it done as efficiently as possible, and once that task is complete, you can move on to the next. Your brain is forced to think about one thing at a time, and when one task is resolved, you move on to the next. If similarly typed and themed projects are grouped, you’ll develop a productive workflow, and you’ll be able to move seamlessly from writing that blog post about the new product you’re launching to answering customer service emails about that product. It’s much harder to simultaneously do your accounts and study some CVs to find a new hire.

Finding Those Uninterrupted Blocks of Time

In the world of productivity, there’s a concept called Pomodoro. A Pomodoro is a 25-minute block of time where you will sit and work without interruption. The idea of Pomodoro is that you force yourself to focus on that task, and then you’ll take a five-minute break (ideal for stretching your legs and resting your eyes) before getting back to work. Meaning, that for every hour, you’ll work for 50 minutes. That’s pretty efficient considering the amount of time wasted with context switching.

Big Tasks Done in Small Chunks

Doing one thing at a time doesn’t mean getting one massive job done all in one go. It’s that fallacy that encourages people to multitask so much. Rather, it means breaking tasks down into more manageable chunks and doing a piece at a time. You won’t write a novel in one year. You could write 1000 words at a time, a few times a week, though – and you’ll be more likely to finish it if that’s how you do it.


Adam Christing is a popular Event MC and Funny Motivational Speaker. He is the author of Your Life is a Joke: 12 Ways to Go from Ha Ha to AHA! (For more information go to AdamChristing.com)