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Single-tasking: Add 13 Weeks to your Life Every Year

Eric Partaker

“There aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t have enough time to spend with my family. I feel busy, not productive. I wish I had more time to do what matters most.”

Sound familiar?

Well here’s another thought for you…

According to research presented in the book The One Thing, the average person loses 28% of their work day to “multi-tasking ineffectiveness”.

28% of a single day may not sound like much. It’s just a day after all. 

But if you string together one average day after another, the results are alarming. 

Apply that 28% daily loss to 46 working weeks and suddenly you’ve lost an entire 13 weeks – every single year!

So it’s no wonder people feel behind and over-worked. Instead of playing the game with 4 quarters per year, they’re trying to do it in 3.

Now imagine if you could add back these 13 weeks? What would it do for you, your family, your team, and your company if you had a whole extra quarter? Every. Single. Year.

It’s not as hard as you might think. You just need to focus on single-tasking, instead of multi-tasking.

Multi-tasking is more accurately described as ‘task switching’. In reality, you’re working in a state of frequent interruption, switching back and forth between multiple tasks, regardless of their importance – checking your email, looking at your phone or inadvertently jumping from task to task on your to-do list. 

In fact, the average person who works with a computer checks email or other programs nearly 37 times per hour – and most of it is subconscious (e.g., the quick glance here and there) or semi-conscious (e.g., you research something online “very quickly” and think you spent 3 minutes doing it versus the 20 minutes it actually took).

Single-tasking on the other hand involves the art of timeblocking. In the white space of your calendar you make an appointment, with yourself, and decide the one thing you will work on to completion.

Just as you wouldn’t suddenly take a phone call if meeting with someone else, or start checking your email, you stay with the task at hand, paying yourself the same respect.

And how do you develop the habit of single-tasking?

Start by simply noting how many times you switch tasks throughout the day. A simple sheet of paper will do.

Create some rows for each day of the week and record a tick mark for every time you switch to a new task.

As you become more aware of your task-switching, and start staying with tasks for longer, you’ll see a gradual decline in those tick marks and begin adding back those 13 weeks to your life, every year.

Once that’s done, you can get to the fun part… what could you do with that extra quarter?

Is there a project or a dream you’ve always wanted to pursue? A hobby? More time with your family? More time to exercise?

Think about it. Start single-tasking today and those 13 weeks are yours for the taking.

Eric has been named "CEO of the Year" at the 2019 Business Excellence Awards, one of the "Top 30 Entrepreneurs in the UK" by Startups Magazine, and among "Britain's 27 Most Disruptive Entrepreneurs" by The Telegraph.

Are you operating at your full potential?

Take the 3 minute test to find out.