If you’re worried about a task, for example, write down your worries 15 minutes beforehand. “Get everything out and don’t hold back,” says Schroder. “You don’t have to share your thoughts with anyone, and don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Getting worries out of your head through expressive writing frees up cognitive resources for other things.”
This technique is also helpful for people who feel like they’re overworked or in a slump, adds Moser: “Expressive writing makes the mind work less hard on upcoming stressful tasks, which is what worriers often get ‘burned out’ over, their worried minds working harder and hotter,” writes Moser. “This technique takes the edge off their brains so they can perform the task with a ‘cooler head.’”
“Writing down your thoughts and worries makes you feel lighter because you’re getting rid of those worries that are weighting you down.” You’re also getting distance from them. “When you take a look at what you’re worried about, it’s often unrealistic things,” says Schroder. “Getting the thoughts out of your mind and out on paper is helpful.”
I actually recommend the following process.
1. Write down everything, big and small, that worries you. Use pen and paper, that stimulates more of your brain.
2. Read the Serenity prayer, it’s excellent guidelines.
3. Cross over those items on the list that you can not change or that are unrealistic.
4. Take a look a what’s left. Are they all things that you can change?
5. For each item that’s left, set a date when you shall act on them. Our brain lets go of things that have a date attached to them.
6. Act on the items that you can change.
Repeat the process above each time you worry too much.
Rather than trying to do everything at the same time, the most productive people prioritize and block off their schedules to focus on one task at a time. “The idea is that if you become more efficient in time management, it allows for more spontaneity and creativity in the day, every day,” Levitin said.
I squirm at the words “time management” since no one can manage time. We can manage our attention though, what shall we actually do and focus on.
While researching his book, “The Organized Mind,” Levitin spent time with very successful people to try and figure out what they did differently from others that allowed them to get more done. While many of these people had a legion of employees working to organize their schedules and set priorities for them, the basic principle of focusing in on one task at a time holds true for anyone. “When they’re doing something, they’re really doing it,” Levitin said. “They get more done because their brain isn’t half somewhere else.”
The key to being productive and succesful (however you define success for you) is to focus on one task at a time.
Many people believe they are skilled multitaskers, but they’re wrong. Neuroscience has shown that multitasking — the process of doing more than one thing at the same time — doesn’t exist.
I disagree on the word “doing”, we can do several things at the same time but we can only focus on one of them at a time.
“The brain doesn’t multitask,” said Daniel Levitin, author and professor of psychology, behavioral neuroscience and music at McGill University on KQED’s Forum program. “It engages in sequential tasking or unitasking, where we are shifting rapidly from one thing to another without realizing it.” The brain is actually fracturing time into ever smaller parts and focusing on each thing individually.
Each time we switch from one task to another we need time to refocus. That means we waste time with each switch.
People often think they are being more productive when they try to juggle tasks, but Levitin says not only is sequential unitasking detrimental to productivity, but it produces less creative work as well. Multitasking is also stressful for the body.
Trying to multitask creates a feeling of busyness but it’s less productive. It’s much better to focus on one thing at a time. When it’s done (or the set time is out), pick another task to focus on. Singletasking rules.