Unusual Moments / main  / One thing at a time
Productivity: One thing at a time www.

One thing at a time

Doing one thing at the time is freaking difficult. Especially if you have a busy schedule and always feel the need to squeeze more tasks into your day. And mobile phones don’t help at all. Notifications make you look at the screen even in the middle of an interesting conversations.

Doing a few things at the same time feels productive, but it doesn’t give you the opportunity to dive deep into the thing that you are currently doing. It feels like you are only scratching the surface.

And by jumping from one task to another, you are not allowing yourself be in a flow state. The flow state feels like being focused and fully immersed into the one thing that you are doing, to the extent that you are forgetting about what is going on around you. You give it all to the task at hand.

Do you often find yourself doing a couple of things at the same time or maybe doing one thing, but thinking of something different, like for instance, what to prepare for dinner tonight, etc?

I am catching myself at not doing one thing at the time ALL THE TIME. Even when writing this post I opened new tabs, read e-mails, and looked for a dance schools in the area. Which hmm.. doesn’t have a lot in common with doing one thing at a time.

I wanted to understand what could be done to not get into situations like that and learn what is that can push you towards intentionally doing one thing at a time and let yourself enjoy the current action. Here are some ideas:


  • Have a clear idea of what the goal is of what you are doing now and what are the steps to achieve it. Write the tasks down.
  • If the task is to big, divide it into small chunks and write them down for the clarity. A small task requires less time to finish. And you feel more productive by crossing out multiple tasks from your list.
  • Make breaks between tasks.
  • Recognise disturbing thoughts and ignore them. Meditation and mindfulness can be helpful.
  • Don’t lie to yourself. If you notice that every 2 minutes during doing one task you check if you haven’t got a message from your friend, just stop and remind yourself what was that one thing you wanted to focus on.
  • Turn off the notifications on your phone. You don’t need to see all of the messages at the time that they are coming to your phone. You can decide the time that you want to see them instead.
  • Remove possible distractions – that can for instance involve putting a phone out of your reach or disconnecting the Internet.
  • If you are distracted by other people, let them know that you are busy, for example by wearing headphones.
  • Sometimes while doing one thing at a time we are getting this amazing idea that is unrelated to the task at hand. In that case you can write the idea down on a piece of paper and come back to the thing that you were doing at the time. When the task is done, you are free to elaborate on the amazing idea that you had before.
  • Make a small reminder and hang it in a visible place. It can for instance say: One thing at a time.


There are of course some situations where you don’t need to be focused and you can do a few things at a time. I don’t think cleaning floors for instance requires your full attention.

Are you good at doing one thing at the time? If so, please share your ways to do that.