The Art of the Single-Task

Every time I start to feel like my life is falling apart, I do one of two things: curl up on the floor and cry (metaphorically speaking, of course… usually), or decide that I am going to fix EVERYTHING. I want to get my life back together, which means that I must

  • clean my house and discover the perfect system to keep it clean
  • decorate my house and hang curtains make it the picture-perfect little bloggable apartment
  • get my finances in order and pay off my debt in 1/200th of the time expected
  • become more dedicated to my faith and read my Bible more, pray more, and participate in church activities more
  • volunteer more and increase my effort and time with my volunteer work
  • figure out how to be the perfect wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and employee
  • come up with a meal plan and follow through
  • find time to excel at a hobby, like this blog or a craft
  • teach myself to have the patience to bake
  • better my education
  • get my career in order
  • exercise and get healthy
  • diy everything

Oh my goodness, I’m exhausted just looking at that list–and that’s just a sampling. So I go crazy and decide that I must do it ALL.all of them. I need to be a better me and I need to be that now and so I need to fix it all. In case you haven’t seen where this is going… it’s not pretty. Trying to be everything to everyone and fix everything all at once is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. So the short time I have between my “do it all!” resolve and the inevitable crash and burn, I take my new-found dedication to being a better person and I try and apply it to 50 things at once. I am a woman so I think I am fantastic at multi-tasking. You know what happens when you multi-task? You accidentally put double the amount of something in the recipe. You forget to do the last step necessary for a particular job. You forget to answer that friend’s text, or send out that card, or move the laundry to the dryer. And then what do you have? Just an inedible dessert and mildewy clothes. Yeah, I went there.

Listen, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with multi-tasking. Sometimes it’s necessary and it’s really not all bad. But I have to ask, when did our culture lose the art of single-tasking? As Major Winchester would put it, “I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then, I move on.” Now I’m taking this quote out of context (cue Hawkeye’s frustration), but there is wisdom to be found here. It’s time to stop trying to do 50 things perfectly. It’s a worthless effort, anyway. Nobody can do it. You will end up being mediocre at all 50 things and feeling like you are a failure.

So here’s my challenge, to you and to me. This week, focus on the art of the single task. Resist the urge to be constantly switching browser tabs. ‘X out’ of Facebook and Twitter. Put your phone down. Do one thing well before you move on to the next. Give whatever is in front of you all of your attention, instead of trying to also do the next two things in line behind it, plus a couple of things in the periphery.

YEAH! ....wait. just one?...wait really, just one of the things?I know, I know, it’s hard. Trust me, I’m struggling with this too. But maybe if we both commit to it, it won’t be quite as difficult. Maybe, for once, I can give the thing I’m doing my full attention. Be completely where I’m at instead of focusing on tomorrow and the next day, and what’s for dinner next week and how on earth I’m going to hang that curtain. It will be hard, but there’s a good possibility that the results will be worth it. It may seem like I’m wasting time, but it won’t be as likely that my work needs re-done due to lack of focus.

So now I leave you with the wise words of Ron Swanson, (little ears warning, there is a smidgen of language in that link), who says in 40 seconds what I have taken 735 words to express. You cannot resist his logic.


This post is part of the series 31 Days of Getting My Crap Together! Read the rest of the series here.

31 Days of Getting My Crap Together! | Waiting for Home Blog

3 thoughts on “The Art of the Single-Task

  1. Pingback: 31 Days is back! | Waiting For Home

  2. Pingback: Learning how to Rest | Waiting For Home

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