This follows-up from the post from last week which examines the work of Leo Babauta (1). He had recommended that we use simple focus to help us be more efficient at work and get more done. He noted that we typically find ourselves multi-tasking and he suggests that there are 3 reason to not do so: (1) It is less efficient, because you need to continually switch gears to do so; (2) it is more complicated to potentially can lead to greater error and fatigue; and (3) it can be “crazy-making,” where we need to find calm. So he offers suggestions on how to single-task.
1. He recommends that when you get arrive in the morning, work on the most important task of the day, and don’t do anything else until this is completed. Take a break and then begin work on the second-most important task. Get that much done and your day is already golden.
2. When you are working on a task, turn off all other distractions, including email and cell phone and try not to answer your land-line phone. Focus on the task at hand.
3. When the urge to check email occurs, take a breath and refocus on what you are doing.
4. If other work arrives while you are at your original work, put it aside and return to the task.
5. Every now and again, look at the newly arrived work and reconfigure what is most important. Process emails and phone calls at a predetermined interval.
6. If an urgent interruption occurs, and they will, make notes of what you are doing, what your thoughts are on the task you were working on so that when you return to it you can pick up where you left off.
7. Take breaks every now and again- get up, stretch, go outside, stay sane.
I find I can do much of this, but that I tend to answer emails very quickly. I am trying to be less aware of the urgent need to do so, since that need is always present. But it requires attention.
When I return from RAGBRAI the week after next, I will discuss what Babauta suggests about focusing on the present.
1. Babuta L. The power of less. New York City, NY; Hyperion Press, 2009