Focus on One Thing at a Time to Get the Job Done

All too often we can feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that we have to do and it is easy to get caught in the trap of trying to accomplish too many things at once and never completing any to your own satisfaction. Often there is a push to accomplish more and more, especially if you are focussed on your career and want to impress.

However, if you want to be really productive, and actually get more done the answer is to actually do one thing at a time. This can sound counter-intuitive and there has been a push over the past few years for people to take on more and more and to fill the 'empty' periods of their day so that they are constantly doing something.

In reality 'do more' is not the same as 'accomplish more' and top performers the world over aim to do one thing at a time. For those of you who remember him Daley Thompson (perhaps the worlds top decathlon athlete) was interviewed on how he became so successful, his answer was to focus totally on the current event and to complete that, the other events just didn't exist in his mind during that time.

People who perform well in business follow the same strategy. Focus on one task at a time, concentrate and complete that one thing and then move on.

This doesn't mean that their waiting time is 'wasted', if they are waiting for something to happen with a particular piece of work they concentrate all of their energy on 'optioning' and 'optimising'.

On those occasions where they do move on to something else while they wait for a resolution they do several things:

(a) Take a Break ? The take a physical break from their desk. They get up, go for a 5 minute walk, get a coffee, anything that will take their mind off the previous task.

(b) Put it in their Schedule ? They plan in time in their schedule for the new task and set this time aside. If the first task comes back to them they finish the new task (or work on it for their allotted time) and only then do they return to the first task. They always go through (a) to change their current mental state.

(c) Schedule a re-visit ? They put into their schedule a time when they will re-visit the first task.

They never jump from task to task, everything is planned and measured. They plan to 'accomplish' rather than to 'work' on a task and the top performers never feel 'overwhelmed' or as if they are 'drowning' and they consistently achieve more than those around them by doing one thing at a time.

Give each task your total, complete and utmost focus and watch your productivity fly.

More information regarding Organisational Change, Coaching and Performance Development can be found at

2005 © Achieving Greatness Ltd. All rights reserved.


PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link.

L Stuart Avery is the Managing Director of Achieving Greatness Ltd, an organisation dedicated to raising awareness around personal and management behaviours. Achieving Greatness specialises in offering advice and support to organisations going through change intitiatives and looking to enhance the performance of their staff. It provides training courses, facilitiation services and coaching to business leaders on Leadership, Management and Strategy.

Stuart has over 20 years of experience across a wide range of industries including Government, Charities, Retail, Travel, Insurance, IT Services and Logistics.

For more information visit

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