scatterbrained? try single tasking

I have too many lots of things to do at any given time.  In fact, here's what's rattling around in my brain right now:

  • Finish and publish one of the half-written posts I have for this blog.
  • Write up (and publish) some of the thoughts I have for my real estate blog.
  • Start writing my monthly email newsletter.
  • Scan (and tag) into Evernote the pile of papers on the corner of my desk.
  • Follow up with the loan officer regarding a potential real estate purchase.
  • Book the free trip to San Francisco my wife & I got for sitting through that time share presentation.
  • Purchase season passes to Wet n Wild for the summer.
  • Respond to several emails.
  • Read (or at least skim) the scores of posts waiting for me in my feed reader.
  • Dozens of other smaller things to do.

Each day I have a block of time to work on this stuff in the morning, and another block of time in the evening after the kids to go bed.  In addition, I have short snippets of time during the day - 3-5 minute stretches here & there while I wait for a report to run or for an email to be answered.

I find that whenever I look at the list as a whole, I get overwhelmed thinking about all of them, and I usually don't get much of anything done.  However, when I single-task and focus on one item exclusively, I get it done and am able to move onto the next item.

The trick is to plan ahead.  I review my list, either at night or first thing in the morning, so I know which items are critical, which will take a long block of time, and which ones I can work on during my 3-5 minute drills during the day.  When the time is right, I pick a task and give it all my focus and energy until it's complete.  Then I can cross it off my list and move onto the next one.  In fact, I'm going to cross that top one off my list right now!

- Chris Butterworth