I always (try to) do one thing at a time.
It doesn’t matter what it is. When I read email, I just read email. When I code, I code. And when I talk to someone, I give that person my full attention.
This allows me to get a lot of stuff done. Not just bare minimum to call it done, but done thoroughly and with quality and care. And people appreciate that.
It is unfortunate that so many other people do the exact opposite. I say unfortunate because that’s what I used to do in the past. And I wasn’t happy, nor productive.
Not shielding myself from distractions made it hard to get things done. Communicating felt like playing ping pong with 10 people at once. I wanted to change because I felt that I owed it to myself and the people I work with. And eventually I did.
One thing that helped me become more effective at work almost immediately was the Pomodoro technique. It’s been at least a few years since I started using it. To this day, I still find it invaluable.
But it’s important to remember that it’s never just about the tools I use. The mindset and self-discipline probably matter even more. Even when I’m not in the middle of a Pomodoro, I usually have enough self-control to resist getting too distracted and stay in the moment. Practicing mindfulness meditation helped me a lot with this.
It’s important to mention that in addition to helping me be more effective at work, single-tasking also helps me stay in the present and notice more things than before, which makes my experiences more fullfilling. I especially appreciate how it deepens and enriches conversations I have with my family and friends. Perhaps another way to put this is to ask yourself: Is there anything else that’s more valuable and enjoyable than having deep conversations with the people I love? It’s easy to say no to other things when you care a lot about the thing you’re doing right now.