The joy of one thing at a time

one thing

We shine at doing three or four things at once. We pack lunchboxes while having breakfast, and put our mascara on while checking e-mails. We can do it. We can also buy a present online while the TV is on while we are sending a text message and helping with homework. But how much fun is it to be able to do this all? For us, it turned out that doing one thing at a time was more peaceful and fulfilling, We share three insights about the joy of one thing at a time.

Multitasking is a myth
“Multitasking means constantly switching from one task to the other. When we are distracted, it takes about fifteen minutes to fully concentrate again on the task at hand. When we do several things at once, they take more time and we are less productive,” says Sjoukje van de Kolk in her book Aandacht (‘Attention’).

Focus is calming
Research shows that when we feel pressured, we tend to think about things other than the task at hand. Thoughts can regularly drift off to what to buy for dinner, to an e-mail that needs sending or to what a colleague said earlier. This leaves us needing to catch up with things, and that turns into more stress that we take home at the end of the day.

It helps to smell the roses
“I sometimes advise my clients to give themselves a half day off each week,” says philosophical consultant Harm van der Gaag. “Often this takes a lot of discipline, because the minute we have nothing to do, we start doing the laundry or painting a door because it has to get done. Firstly, my clients see that the world doesn’t stop spinning if they don’t do anything for a while and secondly, they discover how enjoyable it is to sometimes do nothing.”

  • Want to find out more? In our Mindfulness special you can read more insights about this subject.

Text Sjoukje van de Kolk Photography Shutterstock