In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Monday, August 29, 2011

In Others' Words: One Thing

"The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time." ~Richard Cech, author

I very rarely, if ever, multitask.
For the longest time, I thought multitasking was the way to accomplish amazing amounts of things in brief amounts of times.
Well, I was wrong.
I could multitask with the best of them (and most of them were women). Talk on the phone. Fold laundry. Start dinner. Help my kids with homework. 
A multitasker extraordinaire. That was me.
You know what I realized?
I wasn't giving any one thing (or person) my complete, undivided attention. Everything and everyone got just a little bit of me as I tried to do it all at the same time.
I don't think so.
Sometimes I got to the end of the day and couldn't remember what I had done. Who I had talked to. Where I had put something. 
So now I'm all about one thing at a time. One thing done well. And then I move on to the next thing. And do that well. 

In Your Words: What about you? Multitasker? Or one-thing-at-a-timer? Which works best for you? 

*In case you're interested, research backs me (and Richard Cech) up. 

**Julie C. won the set of stationery and stamps from the giveaway from last Monday's post!**

photo by thegnome54/

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At 6:40 AM, Blogger Katie Ganshert said...

When I multitask, I end up doing things halfway. I try to focus on one thing at a time, but I have to tell ya, it's getting hard! Especially with a kid AND now (and I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from here) as a contracted author...I want to focus on ONE story at a time. But I can't, because while I work on a new project, I have to stop whenever I get a new round of edits on my debut.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

I used to multi-task a lot, too. I've learned in the last couple of years, that I don't focus very well when I'm trying to "focus" on many things at once (except perhaps for folding laundry--I like to talk on the phone or watch part of a movie).
Also with my children, when they talk with me, I want to give them my eyes and my attention. I can't do this if I'm multi-tasking.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Edie Melson said...

I've found that multitasking was, for me, a deception. It promised a way to accomplish more and became the path to accomplish less. My daily schedule is segmented into many things - but only one at a time.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger dtopliff said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger dtopliff said...

Whoa, I couldn't get "comment" to open for ages, but now it finally has. I'm afraid I am a multi-tasker--I kind of view it as juggling and sometimes a ball drops on my head--ouch. Will try to take a lesson from this--thanks!

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Melissa Tagg said...

I'm with you, Beth! I read an article last year (by Angela Hunt, I think) in which she actually called multi-tasking a myth and relabeled it "switch-tasking." I read another random blog recently by Michael Hyatt in which he said "batching" activities is much more efficient...I agree. Or maybe that's just my Type A half speaking up...

At 10:07 AM, Blogger Pat Trainum aka P. T. Bradley said...

Ouch! Those were my toes you were stepping on. But, you know what? I think you're right...the only problem is, I don't think my ADHD self can stop. I think for today, I'll try and do one task at a time. Thanks, Beth!

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

One thing. One thing at a time. Yeah, it seems like I'm going slower when I do it that way. But I am "all there" when I'm doing it.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Reba J. Hoffman said...

When I first entered Corporate America, my hire-ability was based on my ability to multitask. The more and faster I could pull it off, the higher I climbed on the corporate ladder. The problem with all that is it left me without anything really accomplished. I had portions of personal development done. I had a stack of over a dozen books I was reading at once. My car was filled with projects I was in the middle of. All twenty-two of them.
And people wonder why I don't work in Corporate American any more. Ha.
Great post Beth. Very good advice.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Reba J. Hoffman said...

Just in case anyone was wondering, multitasking seems backwards to me. If you spell that word backwards, it is ksatitlum.I don't know about you, but that just sounds like an unproductive, furry little creature that roots in our brains, causing it short circuit. Just sayin'.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Sarah Forgrave said...

I'm a multitasker, but I agree that it never feels like I got much done. Whenever I find myself getting too distracted, I know it's time to hit the Pause button and focus.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Patricia said...

I think it's a badge we wear for a while...don't you? Trying to feel good about ourselves because we think we can keep all those plates spinning at once. There are moments when multi-tasking is a necessity...when we are cooking dinner and you are keeping one eye on the two year old who then decides she HAS to go potty...

But if that is our 24/7 MO, we're going to crash and one...receives our best.

For a variety of reasons, "just do one thing" has been my mantra lately...and it's quite satisfying actually. But I'm a stay at home empty nester 99% of the time and don't have the same needs/temptations to spin all those plates.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Erica Vetsch said...

I'm a one thing at a time kinda girl, but I do tend to get things done quickly. Especially if I make a list. If I put it on my to-do list, I'm compelled by some powerful force within me to get it done or die trying.

Multi-tasking makes me nuts. It exacerbates my ADD side, and I end up getting much less done.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Seems like there are more "one thing at a timers" out there then we think! Do we need a Facebook page? (Just kidding!)

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Lucille Zimmerman said...

Hi Beth,

Great post.

I've read a lot of research which says mulitasking does not work. Stanford scientists wondered how youngsters could text, and sit in class, and talk. What they found was that their brains were jumping from one thing to the next but were not able to recount pertinent material.

Sometimes I get so mad at myself if I'm checking email and my daughter calls and I don't give her my full attention. I wonder what I would do if it was my last phone call with her and I wasn't fully present. I try really really hard to do one thing at a time.

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

That's a good way to frame it, Lucille.
I'm teaching myself to turn away from my computer when my phone rings so I can't check emails while I'm talking. It's rude--even if the other person can't see what I'm doing.


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