This is the second in a series of 10 Keys to Success. As I mentioned last time, in one of the final sections of our upcoming Publishize book, I list my 10 Keys to Success. Because I only briefly touch on them in the book, I’m expanding on them here. Here’s number two in the list.
Do One Thing at a Time.
The first key to success (Do Something) dovetails into the second one: focus on just one thing at a time. Many people say they are overwhelmed because they have too many “to do” items. Trying to do everything at once is not the answer to this problem.
People seem to think that “multi-tasking” is a fantastic thing, but in reality it just means that you do a bunch of things poorly and never finish any of them. The rise in computing technology makes multitasking seem more feasible. Unfortunately, mostly multi-tasking just leads to a lot of extra stress.
There’s an old adage in graphic design that says if you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing. In other words, if you make every piece of text on a page 72-point bold, nothing stands out. A similar principle applies to multitasking. If you try to do everything at once, you end up actually accomplishing nothing. Have you ever looked back upon the expanse of a day and wonder what happened? You may have been busy, but you weren’t actually productive.
Think about it. If you are getting beeps from incoming email from six email accounts, checking your Blackberry every 30 seconds, and posting to Twitter 16 times a day, you probably aren’t getting any actual productive work done.
When it comes to lists, my husband James has a mantra: “pick one.” Then work on that one thing. Do it well, get it done, and take it off the list. Too many people let themselves become distracted by every technological widget out there. Turn of the cell phone, turn off your email, and get something done.
I promise you, it’s absolutely impossible to accomplish a large task like writing a book if you are spending all your time on distracting busywork. As a business owner, it’s extremely easy to fall into this trap and I know I’ve been guilty of doing it too.
Once you recognize that multitasking is actually unproductive, you don’t have to beat yourself up about it. Many people seem to feel like a failure because “everyone else” multitasks better than they do. That’s not true and being a great multitasker is not necessarily something you want to aspire to. Successful people outsource a lot of the distracting busywork to assistants. Do you really think that Richard Branson or Donald Trump spend their days answering repetitive customer service emails? Not likely.
To get big things done, you need to focus. Only with intense focus can you accomplish big meaningful tasks like writing a book. So do what you do best and outsource the rest!