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Single-tasking and the Art of Pulsing

 

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by in Blog
February 19, 2013

We tend to think that multi-tasking allows us to accomplish more tasks in a day than single-tasking. By single-tasking I mean focussing on only one task at a time. It makes sense doesn’t it? You have limited time in a day so the more number of things you can do in said time mean more tasks accomplished.

So instead of taking a break from work for lunch, we bring food to our desks and eat while we work. We read and answer mails while sitting in meetings. We quickly check our social networks while creating reports, or we read new blogs while doing customer research. With new tools, devices and apps coming out everyday, it makes multi-tasking so much easier. Already, since starting this post, I’ve seen two growl notifications on my Mac for new emails and three notifications on my iPhone, one for a Facebook message, one for a new Twitter follower and one for a new blog post from an RSS feed. I also see a new deal popping up on my Kindle homepage.

A few months ago I would have checked these notifications immediately. My new emails might have had links which I would have clicked on just to get the mails over with. That would have taken 10-15 minutes of my time. My facebook message might have prompted me to glance at my Home feed as well, taking away another 15 minutes. I might have looked through some of the posts of my new Twitter follower for 10 minutes and checked out the new blog post on my RSS feed for 15 minutes. God help me if I had looked at that new book deal because I would have spent an hour browsing through Amazon for more books. And this blog post would be sitting in draft mode till I remembered to come back to it.

But today I single task. I’ve learnt to ignore the constant stream of information coming at me from all directions. Mails can wait, other tasks can wait. If I’m in the middle of a task I finish it before going on to the next one. This is called pulsing. It’s pretty simple to do. Here are the steps –

  1. Pick a task
  2. Start said task and keep working on it until you finish
  3. Take a short break
  4. Repeat

Sometimes if a task is too long (more than an hour or hour and a half) you can break it up in to different parts. Just treat each part as a separate task and follow the steps. But make sure that task is done before picking different tasks.

I’ve found that I actually accomplish more in the day by single-tasking. By giving my full attention to one thing, I ensure that I’m doing the task to the best of my abilities. I also don’t burn out as often as with multi-tasking because my brain isn’t being split into different pieces and overworked.

Try to single-task and pulse for a day and see how it works. Experiment with different lengths of work and break to find what works for you. You can even measure your output against a day of multi-tasking by creating task lists and comparing how many you knocked off. Let me know how it goes.

 

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This is the framework I use to grow MRR for my clients by over 20% MoM

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