Single Tasking is Hard To Do

Single Tasking is Hard To Do

Doing one thing at a time. It's a nice concept and may seem easy, but I guess it depends on how you handle things. I know it works. I know the sense of accomplishment that comes with actually finishing something. But that does not stop me from getting caught in the whirlwind of multitasking.

The computer is a mind trapping machine. I bounce from thought to thought, task to task, until I get about 50 things half done and nothing completed. When I do a lot at once, I make myself look like I am getting a lot of work done. Until I'm done. And then it looks like I delegated to a crack head.

And all it takes is one website loading a bit too long.

Maybe the internet trains me to be this way. Click a button and it's here and if it's not, then so what. There are about 400 other things you can do while you wait. It is so hard to just wait.

I always fall for the trap that I can get sales reports done while I write or that I can somehow check email and the comments on my blog at the same exact time. They are short tasks. Instead of choosing one to do first, I jump back and forth and forget things because of it.

There is a big impatience involved. Once a post is written, it is done. Then it is the rush to get it posted. Especially when I have been slacking and missing a day here or a day there. Sloppy.

Forget about deep linking. I can do that next time or go in later and add links. Forget about cleaning up the words. I browsed over it. It's English.

And even days that I start out good, like today, have a good chance of going south quick if I let them. I am calmly doing one thing now, writing.

Soon I will try to do a couple of things at once. They will be tasks a monkey can do, but that's where it starts. By afternoon on most days, single tasking is gone. I am going fast from one thing to the next, my brain going like a spinning top. Every now and then I remember to stop and take a breath, for about a minute. Then off I go.

One thing I have learned. Tools are meant to be tools, not task masters. I can set a timer to stay on a task, but I have to listen to it. I can make to do lists, but I first must read them and then follow them.

And here I thought I could get off easy. I have found the issue and it's me. Always looking for the perfect answer. And that answer, is plain and simple discipline. I manage discipline in other things I do. This one is going to take some work. I need to go digest a few posts from Zen Habits.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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