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Single Task is the Key to Productivity

Have you ever sat down at your desk and forget what you doing? There are many times I have sat down and completely forgot what I was doing there in the first place. Is this normal? I began to question my wondering mind and found some answers. 

The commonality between my finding was it is OK to have a wandering mind. As humans, we are made to create, think, and wonder. When the wondering mind occurs, we need to acknowledge it and bring the focus back. 

This is something that I have struggled with my entire life. Recently, I began practicing mindfulness with the Calm app. Mindfulness is a piece of our Athlete-Centered Approach. Calm defines Mindfulness as: 

“Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment on purpose with kindness and curiosity.”  

In just a couple of months of practicing, I can now recognize when I get off task. I respond by taking a deep breath and recentering my attention to what I was doing.   There are many variations of mindfulness practices, meditation being the one I prefer, but the common task amongst them is the breath. Getting back to the breath will help you realign your senses and slow things down. You will feel like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, as he avoids bullets that are whizzing by him. 

Plan Your Day

Another simple way to focus on a single task is to write out a list of what you want to accomplish in the block of time you are working in. I have found entering my tasks as a calendar reminder helps me structure my day. This structure helps me focus more on the given task. I have tried to-do lists, but it seems like the list is never-ending as I pile more onto it. By writing down what I want to accomplish in the given time allotted, I have seen my productivity levels rise.

During my nightly meditation, the mind is quiet, and wondering thoughts start coming forward. I use these thoughts and ideas as my ammo for my calendar. These thoughts can be good and inspire us to create and do more. Finding ways to organize your thoughts can be as simple as keeping a journal, using your Notes app on your phone (my preferred way), or simply hanging a whiteboard in an area you look at daily. Maybe the fridge, I often visit the fridge! 

Eliminate Distractions

Single-tasking can also be accomplished by eliminating distractions. This can be challenging with our devices constantly begging for our attention. Just recently, I found the “Do Not Disturb” function on my phone and laptop. I wish I would have known about this sooner. Prior to this little time management hack, I had also turned off most of the notifications on my phone. With all my social media notifications were turned off, my social media time drastically decreased. I want to define what controls my time and attention. 

Become more Single Task Minded

  1. Pomodoro Technique – Work in a short block of time and take short break. ie. 25 minutes of work, followed by 5 min of rest (Use timers to help)
  2. Do Not Disturb or turn off your phone
  3. Closeout windows and tabs on your browser (Work in progress for me)
  4. Close your email – set times to check your inbox
  5. Create a schedule that lists your to-do items
  6. Turn off notifications
  7. Use Multiple screens that allow you to focus on what is important at the moment (next on my list to purchase)

Define your time and you will be more productive. When you start to get derailed by thoughts, notifications, etc. Step back and take a breath and regain your focus. Remember, it is not a bad thing to have a wondering mind, just know how to regain that focus and use those thoughts to power you forward.

Lawrence Herrera


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