The Multitasking Myth: How to Focus on One Thing at a Time (And Still Get Everything Done)
Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Do you find yourself constantly stressed out and overwhelmed by your never-ending to-do list? Fear not my friends, because today we’re going to talk about time management and productivity, and how you can make the most of your day without losing your mind. I certainly have days where I feel bombarded and overwhelmed. On top of it, about twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with ADHD and though through the years I have learned tools to help myself with task and time management, I certainly find myself to this day entering the flight or fight mode on occasion.
First things first,: time management is all about priorities. You can’t do everything at once, so you need to figure out what’s most important and focus on that. This might mean making some tough choices and saying no to things that aren’t essential, but it’s the only way to make sure you’re spending your time where it really counts.
So, how do you figure out what’s most important? Start by making a list of all the things you need to get done. Then, rank them in order of importance. This will help you see where you need to focus your time and energy. Back when I was in the sales field, my sales colleagues and I used to be sent to time and planning organization trainings. I wonder if they still do that? My Franklin Covey planner was my best friend – when I remembered to use it. Nowadays there are many apps and online calendars to help including GoogleCalendar and time management apps like Todoist that works great for households with more than one person.
Next, it’s time to get organized. There are a million different tools and apps out there to help you manage your time, but the key is finding what works for you. Some people love the simplicity of a good old-fashioned paper planner, while others prefer the flexibility of a digital calendar. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re using it consistently and checking it regularly.
Now, let’s talk about some specific strategies to help you be more productive:
- Time blocking: This is a fancy way of saying “schedule everything.” Break your day down into chunks of time and assign specific tasks to each block. For example, you might block out 9-10am for answering emails, 10-11am for a conference call, and so on. This helps you stay focused and makes it easier to avoid distractions.
- Pomodoro technique: This is a popular time management method that involves working in short bursts (usually 25 minutes) followed by a short break (usually 5 minutes). After four or five “Pomodoro’s,” you take a longer break. This can be a great way to stay focused and avoid burnout.
- Eat the frog: This is a phrase coined by author Brian Tracy, and it basically means tackling your hardest, most unpleasant task first thing in the morning. Once you’ve accomplished that, everything else will seem easy by comparison.
- Set boundaries: This is especially important if you work from home or have a lot of personal obligations. Let your coworkers and family know when you’re available and when you’re not. And don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t align with your priorities.
There are many apps and tools available to help with time management and task completion. Here are some popular ones:
- Todoist – a task management app that lets you create and organize tasks, set deadlines, and prioritize them.
- Trello – a project management app that uses boards, lists, and cards to help you organize and prioritize tasks.
- Focus@Will – a productivity app that provides background music designed to help you focus and improve your productivity.
- RescueTime – a time tracking app that monitors your computer usage and provides reports on how you spend your time.
- Forest – an app that helps you stay focused by planting a virtual tree that grows while you work. If you leave the app, the tree dies.
- Pomodoro Timer – a time management technique that involves breaking your work into 25-minute intervals, followed by 5-minute breaks.
- Evernote – a note-taking app that lets you capture and organize ideas, notes, and tasks in one place.
- Google Calendar – a calendar app that lets you schedule and organize your events and tasks. (This one is my absolute favorite because you can merge multiple calendars into one location and even color code the calendars). This is particularly great for those with a business, personal and family calendar or if you are wearing multiple hats.
- Focus Booster – a time tracking app that uses the Pomodoro technique to help you focus on your tasks.
- Asana – a project management app that lets you create and assign tasks, track progress, and collaborate with team members.
These are just a few examples, and there are many other apps and tools available to help with time management and productivity. It’s important to find the ones that work best for you and your specific needs.
Now, let’s talk about some of the challenges that can get in the way of productivity. Two common issues are ADHD and anxiety.
If you have ADHD, you might struggle with things like staying focused, staying organized, and avoiding distractions. There are a lot of strategies that can help, such as breaking tasks down into smaller steps, using visual aids like checklists and calendars, and setting timers to help you stay on track.
If you struggle with anxiety, you might find it hard to concentrate or feel overwhelmed by your to-do list. Again, there are a lot of strategies that can help, such as practicing mindfulness, taking breaks to relax and recharge, and using cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques to challenge negative thoughts.
At the end of the day, productivity is all about finding what works for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but by experimenting with different strategies and being honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, you can find a system that helps you get more done in less time.
- “Time Management Tips for ADHD Adults” by Eileen Bailey, Verywell Mind
- “10 Tips for Managing Adult ADHD” by Margarita Tartakovsky,