August 10, 2020

What if changing one thing at a time was enough?


Multitasking has been clinically proven to impair performance, block awareness, disrupt decision making, produce more mistakes and reduce productivity.

And yet, we do it anyway.

Myself included, Maybe out of boredom, impatience, anxiety, pride, who knows?

But what’s interesting about the bad habit of multitasking is, not only does it happen in the micro, like when we’re texting while driving or listening to an audio book while cooking; but it also happens in the macro, like when we try to take on all of our life’s problems at once.

Have you ever done that before? Tried to make more than one major decision simultaneously?

It’s tempting. The opportunity to kill a few giant birds with one stone is hard to pass up. But leverage for leverage’s sake rarely pays off. Quite the opposite. It often drastically increases the pressure we put on ourselves. The practice of speed thinking doesn’t serve us, it just raises our blood pressure.

And when we try to do everything at once, we’re often as bad off as if we had panicked.

Fried writes in his bestselling book about reworking that any company can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product really fast by trying to do them all at once. It’s hard enough to done one thing right, he writes, but trying to do ten things well at the same time? Forget about it.

Jason is posing a critical question.

What if, at least at first, changing one thing at a time was enough?

There’s a degree of restraint there that most of us don’t have. After all, humans are primed for immediate gratification, and if we don’t have to be patient, we won’t. And yet, we forget that we don’t have to do it all at once. That we don’t have to wrestle with every problem. One thing at a time should do the trick.

It’s kind of like introducing solid food to babies. Pediatricians tell new parents to try one food at a time to see if the child has any allergic reactions. They’re supposed to wait three to five days between each new food, but before they know it, that kid will be eating everything under the sun.

Except broccoli. All kids hate broccoli.

Point being, trying to do everything at once will only be a source of confusion and anxiety for you.

If you want to give yourself leverage in the areas that need it most, stop pretending that multitasking is an effective strategy.

What if you didn’t wrestle with every problem today?