Doing it all
This year, I plan to make realistic New Year’s resolutions that I can actually keep… well, at least for the first few months. However, I already know that one resolution that I need to keep striving for is discipline and focus. Multi-tasking is a given in today’s fast-charging world. Yet, although it may make us feel more busy, multi-tasking has been found to be actually less efficient. One thing that I desperately need to master is “uni-tasking” – focusing on completing one task at a time.
Someone who seems to be doing this superbly well is blogger, Amy Chan. I recently spoke with Chan about how she is able to maintain a popular relationship blog along with a corporate career that demands a lot of travel. When I read her profile, the first thing that came to my mind was, “How does she do it?” Thirty minutes into our conversation, I think I’ve managed to suss out some of her tips for how to do more than one thing well.
1. Put it in your schedule
If we want to adopt a new habit, one way to guarantee that we make time for it is to put it into our calendar. For Chan, she blocks off time in the mornings before work and on weekends to focus on writing. This allows her to get at least a couple of hours of writing in even before she starts her work day. Just as some people schedule a daily workout, Chan’s passion is writing, and she ensures that she plans for time to focus.
I always laugh when I see characters in movies booking date appointments with their spouses. But in reality, I have many friends who schedule regular date nights with their partners. I also know of successful executives who have a recurring early morning meeting time blocked out so that they can take their children to school, or have breakfast with direct reports.
2. Practice, practice, practice!
Have you heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that to truly master a skill or craft, you’d need to put in at least 10,000 hours before achieving excellence? Many of us try our hands at different things, wondering if – like the lottery – we might have some latent talent that would electrify the world. When we fail to become good at it, we give up, thinking that we are not “talented” enough. However, many “talents” in life are the result of continued hard practice.
It’s the same with a skill like writing. Sure, some people are better writers than others. But like many things – such as public speaking, leadership, even charisma – writing is a skill that can be honed with practice. With Chan, she has been writing her blog for six years. She writes every single day.
3. Be positive
Chan’s blog deals with romantic relationships and heartbreak. When people are hurting, it’s tempting to go negative. Yet, Chan has so far avoided backlash from ex-boyfriends, potential dates, and even her employer. She juggles everybody’s feelings by ensuring that her writing is balanced and positive.
When we are trying to please a lot of people or do a lot of things, attitude is key. Staying positive can help you avoid trouble, like hurt feelings. It can also help you prevent emotions of being overwhelmed.
So, the bottom line is: whatever you want to accomplish this year, be sure to put it in your schedule to make time for it, practice and practice often, and stay positive.
For me, in the new year, I’m planning to try “uni-tasking” as a way to be more efficient. And I’m going to try the tips above to help me focus on one thing at a time – in order to “do it all”!
What about you, dear reader? What are your new year’s resolutions?