Work on One Thing

queue of people

I often fall into the trap of thinking I am better at multitasking than I know. After finishing several tasks this way, I found more issues than when I started. Or one of my favorite outcomes, where the result is miles from where it should be.

Why do I keep trying to run with two or more tasks simultaneously, knowing it never ends well? This time it will be different from all the other attempts. It is so tempting to see those two simple tasks staring me down right next to each other, making me think they can come together simultaneously.

Don't take the bait.

When we run a single activity to completion, it demands our focus—having undivided attention to think through each of the necessary edge cases and keeping some of our thoughts on the current activity and the upcoming steps we will have to take to complete the task. The result is a complete, thoughtful deliverable. There is a catch here. These tasks do have to have one key attribute. The task has to be able to be completed by you. If you cannot complete the task independently, you must bring in the parties to complete it.

Another key attribute of this activity is it must have a relatively narrow scope. Those activities with a large range tend to drag out over many days or weeks. This leads to many edges that are harder to control and define—a delivered product that is difficult to meet expectations.

Do yourself a favor, and slice your work into small manageable activities. Prioritizing the activities from highest to lowest, executing on only one at a time.