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The Surprising Secret to Doing Multiple Things at Once

My first job was making sandwiches at Quiznos.

Glamorous, right?

It didn’t take long to figure out that I was one of the only people who was ready to work hard to make things happen. One of my biggest strengths (and flaws) is that I pour my entire self into what I’m working on at the moment.

No distractions. Just me and the task. Nothing else exists.

I was toasting bread, restocking the tomatoes, and pacifying impatient customers; all at the same time. I felt like a machine.

But it came at a consequence.

I burned a lot of bread. I dropped a lot of tomatoes. Customers felt like I wasn’t really empathizing with them.

Fast forward to today.

I work on multiple projects, but never at the same time.

The biggest secret to working on multiple projects successfully is to never work on them simultaneously.

Your mind can only focus deeply on one thing at a time. When you give it too much to do, your cognitive resources are spread thinly across tasks, making the quality of your work decrease.

It’s okay to have a lot going on. It’s okay to have a lot to do.

It’s not okay to do it all at once.

Ever see the movie 300? The one about the Spartans?

How did they defeat their opponents when they were so immensely outnumbered? They used a narrow gap in the mountains to line their opponents up, so they could face them 1-to-1. King Leonidas barked: “Their numbers will count for nothing!”

Take 5 minutes at the beginning of your day to prioritize and line up your tasks.

Then unleash yourself.


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