Do one thing at a time and do it very well

This reference dates me, but who can forget Charles Emerson Winchester III and his pious preaching of excellence?

“I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, then I move on,” he blustered.


The show, of course, ruins his belief as he realizes a M*A*S*H unit is not like a Boston hospital. Hawkeye, the mad multi-tasker with magician hands saves the day and knocks the elitist Winchester III down a peg or two.

I loved it. We all did. We loved Hawkeye.

Too bad he was wrong. Winchester was right. And it’s not even close if we really think about it. Ask yourself: do I want a surgeon with focus, or one trying to be a comedian, a flirt, recover from a hangover and take care of two other patients while he works on me?

I’ll take Winchester III thank you very much. But emotionally we all want Hawkeye to be our guy. That’s where we’ve got it all wrong.

Multi-tasking robs focus. Without focus, life is blurry and off-balance. The experts — true American Type A overachievers, to be sure — got it all wrong. Multi-tasking blows. Focus, the discipline to concentrate on the task at hand, is a far more effective way to conduct ones business, though its far less sexy.

Our society loves multi-taskers, fast talkers, go-to-gals who eat stress for breakfast and then flick it away in spin class, without ever putting down the devices, plural.

But it seems the bets people made to this driven way of life are turning up losers. Emotionally bankrupt souls are exhausted and stressed and addicted and desperate. Yes, there is a better way.

More and more I read of people who are interested in mindfulness over multitasking. See some examples below. Even the Type A experts are coming to appreciate a state of zen. Time management expert Mark Forester writes,

“One of the most important time management principles, to which I have often referred in the past, is ‘one thing at a time’.”

In my own life, I increasingly have to tell myself to stop… focus… and return to the task at hand.  When I do, I do better. I am more efficient, not less.

We are not just what we accomplish. For a genuine hoof to head approach, how we accomplish the things we do matters as well. The journey and all that…

Tis’ the season … for multi-tasking. Christmas breeds frenetic anxiety. Lists grow like crabgrass with shoots creeping into every minute of our day.

Just a precious few days remain until Christmas. Stop the insanity now. Focus. Do one thing a time, do it very well, then move on. You’ll be amazed how you get more done and feel far better. You might just have some time to relax, do something like take a hike and even listen to Christmas carols. Tis’ the season… why miss it?


4 thoughts on “Do one thing at a time and do it very well”

  1. Fantastic! And so very true. Its as if people who “seem to be able” to juggle ten thongs at once are the ones who are going places. Well then leave me behind. Id rather do what i do and continue improving at it.
    And in Hawkeyes defense, when anything got intense he was right there not leaving the patients side till he figured out how to fix him.

    Sorry i love love love Hawkeye Pierce. :)))))

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s