10 Tips to Help You Stay on One Task Until It’s Done

How to Do One Thing Until it is Completely Done

You are trying to get one task done.

Yet, everything and everyone is conspiring to keep you from getting it done.

It should only take 5 minutes, but you can’t seem to get 5 uninterrupted minutes in your entire day.

How can you stay on task long enough to get that important task to done?

Stay on Target, Stay on Task

It’s hard to stay on task. Really, it is.

In the workplace, there are countless things to take you off task. That next email. The ringing phone. Co-workers. Social media. News. And more.

It can seem impossible to get even one simple task done in a day. Instead, you get to the end of your day and find that it has been a series of interruptions that has left you with 57 things started and nothing completed.

The best way to get that one task done is to do it and nothing else.

Multi-tasking feels like you are extremely productive. But, usually it is a false sense of accomplishment because you are busy with many tasks, but not completing any of them.

It is much better to finish a few important tasks, than to start a bunch that never reach the finish line.

Here are 10 Tips to Help You Stay on One Task Until It’s Done:

  1. Listen to Music – Listening to music has two productivity effects. First, your headphones isolate you from surrounding interruptions. And second, the right music can get your brain moving and thoughts flowing. This is particularly effective with creative work.
  2. Isolate Yourself – To prevent interruptions, avoid them. Go somewhere where there are fewer interruptions. Go elsewhere, find a conference room, or shut your door.
  3. Remove All Distractions – Out of sight, out of mind. Keep distracting items out of your workspace. As well, choose a workspace that doesn’t have other items to distract you.
  4. Turn Off your Devices – Most people forget, but you can turn your phone off. At a minimum turn off the ringer and notifications. Those devices are for your convenience, not so others can interrupt you.
  5. Close Your Email Client – Those email notifications are the worst type of distractions. Close your email, it will be there when you get back.
  6. Set Expectations that You Are Busy – Let others know that you will be occupied for a time. This helps them understand that you need some time to work and are not to be interrupted. Better yet, set a meeting with yourself so that others don’t schedule something on your calendar at that time.
  7. Go Someplace Else – One reason that working in remote places or even coffee shops works is because it takes you out of your environment. Gone are the distractions of your office, your desk, or home. Removing distractions such as a messy desk, gadgets, or just plain stuff will help you maintain focus.
  8. Close Apps – Computers help us get work done in ways that were not possible before. However, they present a perfect environment for multi-tasking and distractions. Having 30 apps open on your desktop is almost a guarantee that you won’t stay in the one you need to complete. As a side note, one reason I like using my iPad for work is that it forces you to stay in a very simple view at all times.
  9. Turn Off the Internet – The Internet is a wealth of information and you may be tempted to use it for your work. However, you are always one click away from a 30 minute rabbit hole of wasted time. Turn off your Internet when possible to avoid those diversions.
  10. Single-Task – Be disciplined enough not to start another task until the one at hand is done. If another to-do enters your mind, don’t jump on it… instead, add it to your to-do list for later. Stay on target until your task is done.

Doing One Thing at a Time

Doing just one task is a skill that takes practice and discipline.

Most workplaces are so chaotic that it is difficult to stay on one task until it is complete. Yet, by doing one thing at a time you will actually be more effective in your work.

Today, take each task individually. Make sure you finish one thing before you start the next. At the end of the day you will find that you accomplished more and let fewer items undone.

Question: How do you stay on target until a task is done? Or do you multi-task and find yourself with many unfinished tasks? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Invest just 10 minutes a day toward the right ideas, behaviors and strategies to finally be more productive at work…so you can spend less time there! 31 Days, 31 Ways: Daily Tips for Time Management Mastery is my time management course, containing 31 powerful daily lessons and 31 actionable exercises designed to help you take action, reduce stress, and reclaim your time. Click here to learn more.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • bella campbell

    Hey Guys, so i found this blog online and I found it quiet useful. I am really bad with time management and always procrastinate it might help if you want to take a look 🙂 All the best!

    https://kater.com/time-management-skills-examples/

  • Wow! Great tips! I find 2 and 3 especially powerful because our business culture has somehow gotten this idea that piling workers together into one common space makes us more productive. While it may be true that certain roles such as sales or customer support may benefit from that “room energy”, for the rest of us, that “room energy” is just an all-day distraction that constantly threatens to take us off task. Anyway, thanks for posting!