Focus: One Thing At A Time

Kids love shiny new things.

Their attention will almost always shift to the new kid entering the playroom.

They would glance up from their drawing to peek at what their little brothers are having fun with.

The iphone you are intently looking at seems more intriguing than their own television cartoon.

As young kids, their mind are often racing with all kinds of ideas and looking for the next fun thing. Yet, parents need to ground their child, and teach them to focus on accomplishing one thing at a time. 

Children cannot multi task and adults cannot too.

When adults say they multi task they simply say they switch context very quickly across different task in hope that they can accomplish more. Yet, you must still acknowledge that our brains are wired up as a pipeline and only one thing can be processed at one time. We are not computers with multi core processors that can process multi threads of tasks.

Therefore, just as we teach our kids to focus on the task at hand and accomplish it before doing something else. We need to bring that same practise to the workplace. 

By doing so, we cut down on contextual switching, and you will be able to focus and be entirely immersed in the task. This reduces errors and, in fact, increases the quality of the thinking and the work.

Who wouldn't want to do more and do better?

Well, we all say we do, but the typical workplace is still myriad with all sorts of distractions. Emails, instant messaging, phone calls, polite knock on the door/table, laughter acrosss the table, etc. They all add up and even if you had noise cancellation headphones, the visual distractions of notifications and people randomly passing by would still be difficult to ignore. (Note that this is slightly different from when we go to a cafe to zone out with the help of random noises and random people.)

So, what can you do?

Set a side time when you can work with undivided attention on a task. Block off your calendar time if required. Inform your colleagues. Let your boss know. Work from a cafe even (and speak to your boss about it).

Set your phone to DND (do not disturb) mode, your computer too. (Yup, easier said than done.)

Give yourself a time limit, let's say 1 hour, so you know it is just a fixed amount of time before you can move on to other matters.

Just as we breakdown task into manageable portions for kids, lets do the same for ourselves so we can focus on doing one thing at a time and getting it done well.

I would love to hear more about how you cut out distraction, dissect your projects into digestible portions. Feel free to share in the comments.

#ParentingIsTheNewMBA #SucceedAtWork #CareerTips #ParentingSkills

"Parenting is the new MBA: Succeed at work by applying parenting skills” is a column that combines 2 distinct areas of my life: my professional view on workplace management & my personal experience as a parent.

About Edwin Ting

I help brands drive ROI through branding and digital marketing. With 10+ years of China marketing experience across agency, media and ecommerce brand, I have helped various brands drive business in China.

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