This is the fifth post in a series of five. You can find the fourth post here. Next Tuesday, we will start a new series: Taking Massive Action: How to Get Motivated, Avoid Procrastination, and Achieve Great Things.
Do you recall when multitasking was the theme of the day? Office managers and life coaches were touting the idea that working on several projects, tasks or responsibilities simultaneously helped you accomplish more in a shorter amount of time. On first impression, this seems to make sense.
There is a lot of time wasted during the course of a normal day. Stuck in that snail-pace traffic heading to work each morning, why not use a voice recorder to capture your thoughts on that new ad campaign presentation you have to give next week? You can simultaneously cook dinner while enjoying your weekly call to mom on speakerphone, as you check your Facebook feed and respond to emails.
It sounds like an infallible strategy for super-productivity, right?
As it turns out, it isn’t. Just the opposite usually happens. Instead of highly productive, you water down your efforts, and results. This happens because of the way the human brain works. It much prefers to focus all of its considerable abilities on 1 job at a time, rather than trying to process and handle multiple tasks at once.
This is why it is almost always a better idea to focus on one goal or habit-change at a time. There is even a handy acronym to help you remember this: F.O.C.U.S. That stands for “Follow One Course Until Successful.”
After multi-tasking became so popular that everyone was doing it, researchers began studying the results. Time and again, in clinical tests and “real world” studies, trying to accomplish several things at once led to drastically worse results than working tasks and chasing goals individually until the result you wanted was achieved.
Now you may say, what if you have a 10 year goal, 5 year goal and 1 year goal? Can’t you work on all of them at once? Well, you can, sort of, and still focus on one goal at a time. Marry your long term goals to your short term desires. Then, when you are exerting effort on shorter term results, you bolster your longer term success rate as well.
The human brain loves order and loves chasing goals. It is not, however, inclined, nor is it capable of, creating the best results when tackling several things at once. Take your goals on one at a time and you give yourself a greater level of productivity, as a well as a better chance at success.
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