One thing at a time

December 17, 2019
No. 1 sitting on a windowsill


This week’s Zen Tip Tuesday (ZTT) is again written by myself!  This will be the last Gem of Zen for 2019, but ZTT will continue on an ad hoc basis in the new year and throughout 2020.

If you would like to contribute your very own ‘Gem of Zen’ as part of the Zen Tip Tuesday series please go here to find out how (you might also like to visit all the Gems of Zen we have so far). I would love to hear from you!

No. 1 sitting on a windowsill

One thing that can hold us back from achieving a sense of zen is our busy minds and busy days with long ‘to-do lists’ (both mental and written).  There are a few things we can do to help ourselves with this, but we’re going to talk about just one of them today, and that is to focus on just one thing at a time!  


Multi-tasking has become something we wear as like a badge of honour if we are accomplished at it.  Women predominantly are masters at multi-tasking, but at what cost?  In actual fact, it’s been proven that constantly trying to do multiple tasks at once leads to a drop in productivity and lowers your work quality.  Multitasking can also be harmful for our brains, and leads to memory problems, increased distractibility and more! 

Our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time, and bombarding them with information only slows them down.

Probably one of the most damaging effects of multitasking is that you’re missing out on the ‘moment’ because you’re distracted.  Zen is never reached when we are in a constant state of pressurised flux.


  1. Consider incorporating Meditation into your daily routine – Meditation has the power to help you focus, improve your concentration, and even be used as a tool to overcome procrastination.
  2. Prioritise Tasks – Write everything you need to do down in a list. Get it all out of your mind. What needs to be done immediately?  Today? Tomorrow? Next week? Within the month? Not urgent? Break big tasks down into smaller, more manageable bite-sized tasks.
  3. Do the creative stuff first – Mental focus is stronger in the mornings, so it’s generally best to do the creative tasks and those that might need sharper mental focus first up. Move on to the easier tasks later in the day.
  4. Eliminate Distractions – Switch off devices, close down the tabs in your browser, log out of Facebook etc.
  5. Train your mind – Focus takes training – especially if you’re a reforming multi-tasker. Set reasonable time-frames for yourself, then take a short break (e.g. 50 mins focus, 10 mins break). Don’t put pressure on yourself to sit in focus for hours and hours as it won’t work.
  6. Have regular breaks – regular breaks are essential to maintain focus and productivity. Get up, walk around, get outdoors, stretch your body, etc.
  7. Practice Mindfulness – Mindfulness is achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.  So as you can see, Mindfulness can help with focus and concentration. It also helps to reduce stress and creates new neuronal pathways in the brain.


  1. More success with less stress
  2. Improved productivity and quality of work
  3. Tasks get completed much more quickly
  4. Less Stress + Improved Productivity & Quality of Work + Quickly Completed Tasks + More Success = Happier You = A more ZEN you!

Doing just one thing at a time helps you remember more, get more done in less time, de-stress, bring more attention to your work, and work smarter, instead of just harder.  Note too that by ‘work’ I’m not just talking about paid jobs (workforce).  I’m also talking about all the jobs/tasks/chores that are in our day to day lives.

Finally, I wanted to share this list of Zen Things that centre around doing one thing at a time:

Do one thing at a time

Are you a multi-tasker?  I used to be but not quite so much these days.  Have I convinced you to switch to being a ‘single-tasker’ now?  

Ciao for now,


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  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan December 17, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    I am a multitasker but I am also a list maker. Each day, I begin with my quiet time, whenever possible and then make my list for the day – to get everything down on paper and out of my scrambled brain. And then I begin tackling things. I didn’t realize it is best to do creative things first thing in the morning so need to rearrange my schedule to reflect. I have always run around trying to tackle all the to-dos and then, if there was a moment left over, I have tried to paint or draw or cross stitch for a second.

    When I get really stressed about all that I need to do, I try to remember to prioritize what has to be done today and carry over the rest of the list for the following day. I often have to remind myself to finish folding the laundry before I clean the litter boxes, or empty the dishwasher otherwise I am flitting all over the house with half-completed projects everywhere.

    • Reply Min December 20, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      I’m a list maker too Leslie. I like a bit of order and ticking things off a list suits me well!

  • Reply suzanne December 17, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Min, all good suggestions for hectic holidays in particular. We are half way through December and I am still standing with a smile on my face. My mantra for the season is ‘pace yourself.’ Hopefully the next two weeks will go as well. Merry Christmas

    • Reply Min December 20, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      Fantastic to hear the silly season hasn’t got you frazzled Suzanne! Good for you! Merry Christmas to you also! x

  • Reply Christine Aldred December 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    I’ve been reading lately that our brains actually can’t do two separate tasks effectively at once and so there’s no such thing as multi-tasking, but just being very busy and having a lot of things on one’s plate at the one time. Of course you can do things like walk and talk at the same time, but it’s really not possible to say, write and watch a movie at the same time – one activity is going to suffer. Breaking tasks down to single units is definitely the way to go – I’m trying to get better at compartmentalising my time to be more effective.

    • Reply Min December 20, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      You’re right! I can’t write and listen to music. I need complete quiet whereas others like to listen to music while they write. I find it a distraction and tend to sing along and lose my train of thought. We’re all different aren’t we? 🙂

  • Reply Leanne | December 18, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    I used to pride myself on being a multi-tasker, but since I hit my 50’s I’ve dialled it back a few degrees and try not to do more than one or two things at once. I find the less things I juggle, the less likely I am to muck something up or to forget a step. When I was working I could do two or three things at once, but I still preferred to focus on one task at a time. It certainly stresses my head less if I’m not juggling.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    • Reply Min December 20, 2019 at 3:10 pm

      I used to pride myself on being a multi-tasker too Leanne and I was very good at it. I was a PA for a long time before I moved into other fields of work. I’ve dialed it back too. My peri-menopausal brain isn’t quite the same now! lol

  • Reply Natalie December 19, 2019 at 9:16 am

    All very good tips, Min. I’ve been doing similar steps to your 12 Zen Things. In my day-to-day living, I tackle one thing at at time and when it’s finished, I move on to the next. Wishing you and your family a merry Christmas and a happy New Year 2020!

    • Reply Min December 20, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Tackling one thing at a time before moving on to the next makes good sense doesn’t it?! Thank you for the Christmas wishes Natalie and a very Merry Christmas and happy, healthy New Year to you also. xo

  • Reply Christie Hawkes December 24, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Thanks for the important reminder, Min, as I am in the midst of my busiest season at work and some large personal tasks. I am happy to say that I am doing many of your suggestions already, but it’s important to refocus and get back to basics on occasion–which is what your post helped me do. One thing that is new–I have not thought of doing the creative tasks first thing. Sometimes I will do the one thing I’m dreading first, just to get it out of the way so it isn’t hanging over my head. Or if I’m struggling to get started, I’ll do a couple of easy tasks, so I can check something off the list and get the juices flowing. I do like the idea of starting with a creative task, though, and will give it a try. Thank you! #MLSTL

    • Reply Min January 14, 2020 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Christie – I hope you had a fabulous Christmas and best wishes for a happy & healthy 2020! Good luck with that busy work situation and all those large personal tasks. I hope that trialing doing creative tasks in the morning proves beneficial. I’d be interested to hear! xo

  • Reply CJ January 4, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Excellent advice. I am focusing on using my Little Moments (the spaces inbetween) to get my zen pack in order in 2020. It’s actually hard work and needs to be practices lots. But so worth wile!

    • Reply Min January 14, 2020 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks CJ and fabulous to hear that you’re using those ‘spaces inbetween’ to get your zen in order. Good thinking and yes very worthwhile! 🙂

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