It’s only Wednesday and I haven’t had a full day off in about three weeks. With all of the competing projects that need my attention, it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that I need to do for work. On top of that, like many of you, my inbox has been overflowing lately, which is really the last thing that I need in my life. I have been determined to focus and give every task my proper attention. If there was ever a time to put in practice all the productivity knowledge I have, that time is now. I managed this with my email just fine, and then I started working on merging together two data sets. Since I am not very excel savvy, this involved opening each separate file, copying and pasting the data into the new master file, and repeating for all the different data points (over 35 separate excel files!) The sooner I could do this, the sooner I could begin to analyze the data. Granted copying and pasting is not the most gratifying of experiences, the payoff was going to be worth it, so I was determined to get it done as soon as possible which meant no multi-tasking. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done. Even knowing full well the importance of focusing on a single task for peak performance, I found my mind wandering. ‘When was I going to eat lunch? How much longer was my task going to take? I should write about the fact that my mind is wandering at this very second.’ I didn’t actually switch tasks, so technically I did not multi-task but the mental gauntlet I ran the entire time I was doing so was exhausting in and of itself. Why is it so easy to defeat the very purpose or goal we are trying to achieve simply by doing less? I think it all boils down to practice. The more that we can maintain the single-task mindset, and avoid distractions whether internal or external, the easier it becomes to do so. It becomes muscle memory, a reflex. How to do this? Discipline helps. Forcing yourself at times like I did can help get you through a bout of something you don’t really want to do but should do while exercising your single-tasking muscles. It can also be helpful to give yourself a reward for sticking through your single activity, it doesn’t have to be big, maybe 10 minutes of watching puppies and babies play together on YouTube, or one of my favorites, a treat like a scone to go along with my afternoon coffee pick me up. We could all do with more focus to achieve greater productivity so join me in single-tasking, I promise it won’t kill you.