Revolutionary Idea That Will Blow Your Mind!


Ok, not true.

It’s the simplest idea and it’s quite an unsparkly one.

But what you do with it, has potential to blow your mind.

It all started when I realised with a shock that I’ve pretty much lost the ability to do one thing at a time.

At any time (including when I’m asleep, I bet).

Case in point, as of now I have:

  • 10 browser windows open at once, 8 of them stuff I want to read and take action on, 2 are FB and twitter
  • An audio recording playing in the background
  • Thoughts swirling what to do next
  • Flipped to twitter and facebook twice
  • Been writing this for a minute

I also just noticed that each time I get distracted my foot starts shaking, my toes wiggle, my stomach clenches and I feel a little agitated.

(Oooops, I mean, distract myself – nothing outside of ME is doing this to me, right?)

This is not good.

For productivity or health, happiness or peace of mind. I mean, random body parts going into convulsions in tandem? Not good, unless it’s on the receiving end of the Black Eyed Peas!

You know how Jan’s theme for me was Love?

This included taking time off from writing on the blog to focus on processing the progress in my life, ie, doing what I was inspired to do in the face of fears like “I’ll lose my readers if I don’t keep writing” and “Isn’t that irresponsible” etc.

Psst: I originally wrote “changes” in my life and changed it to “progress” instead cos of a new way of thinking which I am excited to blog about soon – it’s on my list of topics!

Well, Feb was a tossup between Yoga 3 X a week or 10 minutes of intentional meditation or silence in the morning before I turn the computer on. Notice how specific I am with my actions? This is good.

As of this second, I’ve decided to go with something infinitely more challenging.

For all of Feb (thank goodness it’s only 28 days instead of 31!) I am going to do one thing at a time.

Yes we’ve all said that many times before but how often do you follow it? Over the past 2 years I have listened to 100’s or interviews, talk shows and seminars.

Each one of them starts with “stop doing everything you’re doing right now, I know you know it’s important but REALLY, stop everything else, eliminate all distractions and let’s get started”.

And I go “yeah yeah I know” and promptly get up to get some water or food, check my phone, look to see who’s online, make a to-do list etc.

One thing at a time means – ONE browser window open at a time. If I want to tweet, I have to close Facebook. If I want to watch a TEDtalk, I have to close the FB window. And if I want to write a blog post, you get the drift.

Now, I’m imagining all sorts of benefits that could come from this:

  • Focusing on what’s important
  • Less time wastage
  • More productivity
  • Focus
  • Health (losing the foot convulsions – this is good)
  • De-addiction to inconsistency and scatteredness
  • Heaps more t… sorry, had to go check the other windows!

Yes, I am really going to do this starting in about 12 hours.

You know what would be SO cool? If YOU took up this challenge with me and did it for a day. Just so I won’t suffer from the withdrawal symptoms alone..

Btw, this isn’t restricted to the Internet, it has to do with everything you do from cooking to cleaning to talking on the phone to working. Uh.. I think they call it “mindfulness” or “being present”.

I call it – one thing at a time.

You will? YES! So glad you’re on board. Ok, here’s what we do now.

  1. Feb 1st, or for the next 24 hours if you’re reading this mid day, commit to doing ONE thing at any given time (not incl music or your thoughts har har – we have about 20,000 of them a day!).
  2. Then, come back a day later and write about your experience.

Whether you managed it for 10 minutes, all day or none at all. Some awareness will come up for you, for sure.

You’ll know where and how you disconnect with what’s going on and maybe even learn to predict the times or circumstances that bring up ineffective multi-doing.

Or you may find that sometimes, multi-tasking actually helped and worked better than doing one thing – I don’t know what you’ll find but I sure would love you to share that with us. I’ll comment on Feb 2 to talk about mine.

In the meantime, I have some question for you:

  • What makes you try to do it all at once? Society? Pressure? The Jones?
  • Why do you get distracted so easily when you KNOW you could do it faster and better one at a time?
  • Do we really think that by dividing our attention, we can rule or is it an uncomfortable comfort zone?

Man, I can’t wait to hear from you! Thanks for playing!

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  1. says

    Great post. As I was reading this, I was twittering and listenng to Beethovens Symphony #5 C Minor on my iPhone, putting Mykah to sleep on my chest, thnking of which movie I want to watch. good luck to you on your “one thing at a time”

  2. says

    I did say music and thoughts were excluded cos 1) music enhances and relaxes and 2) controlling thoughts is nigh impossible.

    So in effect, you put Mykah to sleep and that was the one thing you were really engaged in / with (apart from the tweeting) – well done Harry! Thanks for the comment xo

  3. Sujata says

    Jai Mata Di !!!
    Curious cat in me prompts me to ask this question – why Mata Di’s pic with this particular post ??

    Answering your questions:
    1. What makes me do all at once is “Pressure”. When I am running with thousands of things, I feel while I am waiting to get x thing done, my y thing would be half done. so Why not?
    But what I have realized is my mind gets pulled into 2 directions at the same time. Without doing justice to either of the two at that moment, I lose out on time trying to do one while my subconsious mind is actually thinking on the second task on hand.
    The same analogy goes with your comp/laptop too. Poor machine, though it can do multi tasking, it gets really slow trying to squeeze in our myriad tasks of shifting from FB to twitter and other hazaar stuff.

    2. Why do I get distracted so easily ? Answer to that is I fall prey to my mind’s way of ruling me whereas it should be the other way around. After having read Robin Sharma’s books on self improvement, I try and consciously pull my mind back to the task on hand rather than letting it run helter and skelter. While we should be the master of our mind, we become a slave to our mind which has been spoilt by our old habits. Self disciplining our mind is what will work here.

    3. By dividing our attention, I think we just get into uncomfortable comfort zone. If your multiple tasks sometimes mean delegating some tasks to others who will do it for you, that is something that can happen while you are taking care of the rest. In which case you could still be working with a single task on hand while some of your other tasks get taken care of.

    My 2 cents worth – When those other tasks are trying to get your mind’s attention, quickly replace those with images of current task completion and slowly one can get better at doing things “One at a time”.


  4. says


    It’s 10:20 am and I’m done with all my Internet stuff within 20 minutes, feeling focused and clear headed (usually takes over an hour and leaves me feeling overwhelmed)! :O

    I first opened twitter (default setting), once done, facebook. This was a little more challenging as I tend to click on a few links – photos, articles, status message updates etc and it’s time wastage to open one, go back and to it again.

    So I opened a few windows BUT I didn’t flip back and forth as I usually do, I went through them one at a time, closing each window and taking action if needed right hen and there instead of doing it later (for example, I wanted to share a link so I copy pasted it, shared it on twitter and closed both windows right away)

    Checked all emails, blog comments etc and whoosh! I’m done! Since I’ve got to get brekkie and run some errands now, I’m going to close this window and come back later. Hah! It’s not even 10:30 yet and I feel pretty good – and free!

    How are you guys doing?

  5. Ailey says

    What a great idea – and good timing for me too as I feel overwhelmed with everything I want to do. I have 5 pages open at the moment – facebook, an abraham hicks video on youtube, a pattern for a crochet flower, a site that I’m considering for doing my new blog and this page and I seem to be doing them all at once! The funny thing is that my boyfriend and I are meant to be having a big clear up and reorganise in our room and he’s hard at work while I’m sitting on the bed doing all these things at once. Oh dear. I am going to start this challenge RIGHT NOW. I am turning the computer off and going to give my darling boy some much needed help!
    Thanks Tia – will let you know how I get on!
    I hope your day is still going well.

  6. Mia says

    Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn’t.

    I’ve recently started practicing the habit of switching off my e-mail when I’m working on a text project, so I don’t get distracted every time I get a notification of a new comment posted on Facebook.

    At other times, I feel that a peak at Facebook is just the thing my monkey mind wants before it will follow me into the next stretch of concentrated work.

    Like with every practice: if it feels good, it’s great – if it feels like you’re forcing yourself into an iron discipline, not so great.

    Great point though! Thanks

  7. says

    Great experiment, Tia. I’ve done this one many times before…and at the end of the day (any given day) it just depends which one feels the best is the one that works for me on that day.

    Some days I’m a multi-doing wizard…I’m amazed at how many plates I’ve got spinning and how graceful and easy everything flows…one thing/task/action naturally melding into the next, as if they’re all somehow synchronistically connected. (and sometimes they are!)

    Other days there is absolutely NO way I can do more than one thing at a time and on those days it feels super great to just get into and complete each one thing before getting onto the next.

    Then there are other days where there’s this weirdo in-between space where honestly, neither feels quite right and those are the days when I feel like purely playing outside, or with my horse, my dog, my kitties…is the only answer that feels really good. (So the list of to-do’s waits another day…*shrug*)

    Love how you decide to switch things up to see what feels best. I’m with Mia…do it while it feels great, when it switches to feeling like you have to instead of that you want to (‘iron clad discipline’), I’d switch it up again!

    …and I can’t help but snicker a little thinking about you in another year…when that baby is in your arms and you’re reminiscing about the time you wrote a post about doing just one thing at a time. 🙂

    Enjoy the time and space you have now to try that on…’cause when that sweet little Tia (or Timo) is sitting on your lap I’m imagining all sorts of other posts that will be coming to mind before this one!

    …and it’ll be absolutely perfect! It is perfect.

    Love ya, Sweetie!! 🙂 XO

  8. says

    Well, well, WELL! This is what happened – After that first post I made around 10:30 am, I went out to run some errands etc, came back home and started reading Martha Beck’s North Star, and here I am 2 days later.

    While it worked for me to do one thing at a time, this experiment brought up something major for me – something that had been buried for about 14 years and never once felt through. I realised that by slowing down and not multi-tasking, pain that had not been acknowledged, was brought up. So I spent 2 days being 90% offline, curled up on my couch processing stuff!

    OH MY.

    A bit gobsmacked really – had no idea this is what would come up! So nope, there wasn’t any increased productivity, in fact, my world stood still and for the 1st time, I missed sending out an ezine too. For me, the knot in my stomach and edginess in my feet had to do with unprocessed feelings – something wanted to come up and by being ‘busy’ with lots of stuff, I wasn’t letting it.

    The point? Sometimes we NEED to slow down and let our inner selves out. I’m sensing a body mind connection orchestrated perfectly. While I was on the right track earlier about Feb’s theme (to do with my body), it’s now clear to me that it’s about CONNECTING with my body – really feeling it, listening to it and bridging the gap between body and mind rather than working out. Phew!

    Conclusion: I really like doing one thing at a time when it’s something I need to focus on, not just for the sake of doing it cos that’s restrictive. So I’m bringing mindfulness to all of Feb, which includes mindfulness of my body. This could be anything from yoga, meditation, lying with my eyes closed and doing nothing, examining my hand – whatever form it takes.

    Not such a simple thing to do ay 🙂 What came up for you guys?

    @ DEB, I can’t stop laughing at your post!! LOL!! Thanks for holding that vision for me 🙂 And yeah, switch it up – follow the feel good – listen to your body. That’s all of life taken care of right there!

    @ SUJATA – chose her cos of the multi tasking arms! And I love how well you explained the pressure of multi tasking. So right – the more one tries to do, the slower one gets and less gets done. The less you do, the faster you do it and more gets done. Fascinating!

    @SUZIE – Thanks for the link, how did it go for you?

  9. says


    I’ve been trying to do this for the last 3 days (although as I type this I am also watching an episode of “Bones” via on my TV…guess I’m not doing so well, eh?).

    I have done this before at the suggestion of my coach and found it to be quite effective. Do one task, move on. What’s more, when I had a staff, I let them know when I would be working on WHICH tasks (scheduled out each week the Friday before) so they would not interrupt me duirng the wrong block of time!

    But now, it’s just me & my two cats (who will not follow ANY directions at all and are constantly getting in my lap, demanding attention no matter what I am working on!).

    I found that in this round of doing this experiment, I had a much harder time…even though I KNOW it works. What’s that all about?

    Then I read your comment from today and thought maybe I had a little of that going on as well. By staying busy & multi-tasking, I don’t spend time processing emotions or thoughts I have going on in my mind/body.

    So, today I did, well, nothing! I didn’t open my computer until after 7pm (although I will admit I had my phone on & took a few calls & answered a few short e-mails). Actually, I didn’t to nothing….I read The Alchemist.

    Turns out, that was exactly what I needed today. I’ve heard about this book so, SO many times but after reading it today know that it wouldn’t have made as much sense to me without some recent experiences in my life.

    Slowing down and just doing one thing at a time was just what the doctor ordered to make me get a much needed message from my book today. And some energy to tackle the rest of my week. Not to mention continuing to follow my dream of having a my book published by the end of the year!

    So, thanks for slowing me down! 🙂

  10. says

    Yw my darlin’! I think when we’re in a disciplined environment where there are consequences “better finish this report or I’ll be sacked” etc, we tend to get very task focused. Working from home or on your own becomes a little more process oriented (I cld just be making this up completely, in fact, I am!) and so the essential self starts doing what IT wants to do – play with cats, take naps – rather than letting the social self take over. Hence, the tug of war?

    Our ancestors had it good in some ways – the slow pace of life (although we have it better with modern day comforts). The trick is to assimilate the two in a way that gives us the best of both worlds!

    On that note, I just got back from my 1st Yoga class this year – in keeping with Feb’s (new) theme I’ve decided to do Yoga 3X a week – one of the best to really connect the body-mind-spirit trio. After 2 days of being sick I feel freakin awesome right now!

    SO excited about this theme! YEAH, amazing what slowing down does! 🙂

    @ Mia Can I just say – your comment on FB was the best, you really get it gf! Thanks for being so YOU!

  11. Ailey says

    The other night, as I sat down to do some of a crochet blanket, instead of putting my computer on I just sat and put my full attention on what I was creating. It was like a meditation and I’m sure the squares I did in this way are more beautiful than the others!
    I do love to sew and create whilst listening to inspirational cds and youtube clips such as abe and wayne dyer so I am going to carry on doing that because I think that it can only add beautiful energy to my work but I am not going to try and do all the other things at once and will definitely make time for ‘meditative’ sewing too!
    Thanks Tia, for suggesting this – I have definitely learned something here.
    And thank you for your inspiration!

  12. says

    You know what meditation is right, Ailey? “A mental discipline by which the practitioner attempts to get beyond the reflexive, “thinking” mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness.” So what you did wasn’t LIKE meditation, it WAS meditation! How beautiful that you recognise that. I’d love to see a picture of that blanket when you’re done 😀

    Too often we get caught up in the idea of what it looks like – sitting up straight and breathing in and out. Nah, even washing dishes can be meditative if done with focus and awareness. Thanks for sharing that perspective here Ailey, and you’re very welcome. I learned heaps through this little experiment too!

  13. Sindy Van Hoang says

    I agree that “doing one thing at a time” works on some days & not on others but what i found was “doing one thing at a time” was essential when i wanted to connect with my friends, my body & mind. Recently, I noticed when i was talking on the phone with a friend i would get distracted about anything down to a piece of lint on the floor or phone texts. I wasn’t fully engaged with that person & I’m sure they knew it!! Then, I recounted a time when a friend was clearly distracted when I was on the phone & it didn’t make me feel good at all so our conversation was just surface chatting. So I immediately made my apologies & acknowledgments to the person I was chatting with as I’m sure I’ve done more than one thing while on the phone with them.
    At work – it’s difficult to “do one thing at a time” but there are times when I can focus on one thing & increasing those times when I can so not to feel pulled in many directions.
    Thanks Tia 🙂

  14. says

    I like that distinction Sindy – picking when focus is important and when multi tasking works better. Esp when it comes to human interaction or anything that requires our full attention – love the examples you gave!

    I know when I speak to my mom on skype and I’ve got a few windows open she gets upset and I feel edgy cos I’m not giving her the attention she deserves, nor the work I’m doing. I’ll take a leaf from your book and focus just on conversation the next time 🙂 thanks for showing me the importance of that! I know my mom will love you for this!

    And thanks for chiming in her, I really appreciate your input!

    @MIA – gee I can’t remember now either, lol. But thanks anyways!

  15. says

    OH MY- is that what happens- Like you I have has a roller coaster week emotionally.

    I have had highs and real lows, lots of questions about what I am doing and feel so behind- interesting
    and I still have to set the firefoc=x addon up 🙂

  16. says

    I just discovered your blog today, Feb. 6th, but it’s definitely not to late to take up the challenge of doing one thing at a time. And what a challenge it is.

    Why do I do so many things at once? I believe it’s because I’m interested in so many things and people that I neglect to choose, and try to juggle them all at once. Right now I have 3 windows open, not counting my email, and this is low for me.

    I’ll start off the day with a to-do list, but when I read an email where a friend suggests an article, site or tool I’ll follow that link which always leads to another link and on and on. Or, I’ll check my Google Reader to see what my favorite bloggers are saying and then I respond to some, but also follow links of some of the other commenters.

    Along the way I get ideas for my blog, coaching or some other project so I have to open a document to jog down notes or post links to pursue later.

    Because I also teach an online class, I must check the Discussion Board and respond to students’ inquiries.

    And on and on it goes. I call it falling in Alice’s rabbit hole. Hours pass and I discover that I haven’t made much progress on my to-do list, but I’ve sure had a lot of fun.

    This year, before I even read this article, I vowed that I was going to limit my time on email especially since it’s my biggest distractor. But having only one window open at a time will take some effort.

    OK. I’m going to try it right now. Here I go-o-o-o!

  17. says

    Hi Flora and welcome to the blog! So glad you found us, an absolute pleasure to hear from you! You’re actually showing me how good multi tasking can be in that
    you collect ideas and find interesting things along the way. I reckon what would help with the rabbit hole is to do what you’re doing (cos it seems to work for you – if you’re having fun, you’re doing it right!) AND limit it using a timer.

    Say 30 minutes of following links down the rabbit hole and then stop and do something from your list with 100% attention. I’m getting excited as I type cos I realise this could work very well for me too! Some things are better done a few at a time and others, not so much.

    We all known our own Achilles heel and time wasters so if we picked those and worked with them in this way – wow, I’m seeing productivity with a capital P!

    Thanks for that GEM of an insight – I’m going to take it on board. Love that red btw, suits you so well. Great to ‘meet’ you!

  18. says

    this is a heck of a resolution 🙂

    two things i’ve found useful in helping me focus – use to read articles later (on the go if you have an iPhone / iPod touch).

    and not checking email until 11a or noon every day. focus on the most important thing i want to accomplish and get ‘er done.

    also – meditation / yoga has helped a ton.

    can’t wait to hear how it’s going!


  19. says

    I like having 4 or 5 or 8 projects on my desk at one time. Many times throughout the day I tend to lose my focus, rather than sit and struggle to regain my train of thought I will move immediately to another task. When I feel my mind wandering or getting distracted I may go to yet another task or return to the original. Not only does this help me ” chip away ” at big projects, but, as I am jumping from task to task my perspective is refreshed or some how changed as a result of thinking or working on another project. Perhaps just an illusion, but it seems to work for me!

  20. says

    @ Kareem, thanks, those are great tips! The one that worked for me was not checking email till after I’ve worked out & had breakfast (although, some days are more successful than others ;)) The one browser at a time trial didn’t work at all. Hmm! How’s it going for you?

    @ Rick Yes, I’ve found that it works for me to have a few things going on at once but focusing on one things at a time. So even with a few projects if I flit in between them it gets distracting and not that effective, but if I allocate time to each project, it works way better.

    Variety + focus! I love how so many different ways work for us all – must be a personality / chemistry thing. Thanks for sharing, it’s great to see new faces on the blog!


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