Are You Getting It Done...Sort Of?

Allegedly the female brain is hard-wired to be better at multi-tasking than a man’s because we have better connections between the left and right sides. While it’s interesting that we’re more likely to remember faces—because several sub-networks can simultaneously connect—I think we have to consider the context where this whole multi-tasking concept was born. Multi-tasking was originated by computer engineers and refers to the ability of a microprocessor to process several tasks simultaneously but last time I checked, you operate in a context called human being. Most of us, especially those of the creative persuasion, struggle with something that can undermine the growth of our business: focus.

How To Bottleneck Your Brain

Research has also shown that multi-tasking creates bottlenecks in the brain. People who multi-task are pre-disposed to error and actually take longer to get things done than those who tackle one thing at a time. In a designer’s world, multi-tasking also gives rise to what I’ve dubbed shiny-ball syndrome. You want to double your income, your instagram following, launch a fabric line, write a folio and you want to do all of it NOW! But the trouble is that unless you’ve got dedicated resources—like staff and marketing dollars—focused on each of these areas in your business exclusively, you’ll find yourself spinning, and likely underperforming, in the areas you’ve got on the table now. Your growth trajectory—that is if you can ever launch—will take much, much, much longer than it needs to.Now I’m not trying to clamp down on your creativity because I know most designers are multi-passionate, but I’m reminding you that human beings only learn one thing at a time. In fact the things you’ve chosen to do to grow your business have things to teach you, things you don’t know you don’t know that will keep you moving forward, but you won’t be learning them if you’re not present. You can’t be visible when you’re scrambling, when you can’t get your to-do list straight, let alone done.

Do One Thing At A Time

“The (wo)man who is perpetually hesitating which of two things (s)he will do first will do neither,” William Wirt, the man who dialed up the importance of the position of Attorney General, (almost) said that. The premise being that to succeed in business, means to focus on one thing and do that thing well, rather than dabbling in forty. Folks who flit from plan to plan are master of none. They’re also probably tired and crabby. Stop cluttering your desk with half-dones. Don’t let your resolutions shift at the first counter suggestion of your right-hand, best friend or spouse. Pick one area of your business to focus on and master it. I mean really get it right before you move onto the next. Who do you need to market to, be supported by, hire or fire to be fully present in your core business today?

A Formula For Getting It Done

Start by figuring out what you want, whether it’s a goal, a solution to a problem, a new process. Next, concentrate on that one thing and focus ALL of your thought on it. The mind is like a rubber band—you can stretch it to fit almost anything—but if it’s wrapped around too much, it will break. Remember that every little task you complete will be part of something big, once you put it together and your combinations of little things will turn into executed visions.And have patience, not the kind that as Robert Collier says, “sits and folds its hands and waits", but the kind of patience that never jeopardizes or upsets a plan by forcing it too soon. The designer who masters that kind of patience spends her meantime getting plenty done, right now.