stress - focus - single tasking

Stress Less: Single Tasking for a Calmer, More Efficient You

Imagine plates spinning precariously, emails pinging incessantly, and to-do lists stretching into infinity.

Turns the gut right?

You may even be wondering if you have time to read this post with all the work piling up around you…


This, is the multitasking merry-go-round, a ride that leaves us dizzy, stressed, and yearning for a calmer reality.

But what if the key to unlocking inner peace, greater productivity AND increased efficiency lies not in doing more, but in doing less?

Enter the transformative power of single-tasking.




The Multitasking Mayhem

We’ve all been there: juggling work deadlines, social commitments, and personal errands, feeling like we’re constantly on the verge of dropping something (or everything?).

And if you’ve ever been aware of this, under stress, we seem to have less tolerance for others, and for other nicer things we once loved in life (stress here is anything that requires more energy than just enough to tick over – exercise, socialising, even more, ’emotional’ films or TV programmes may get put to the side when we’re in a heightened state of stress).

Our ‘spare capacity’ fades, our tolerance lapses, and we want to just hide away from people and work and play and EVERYTHING.

We’d rather go home and stay solo in order to recuperate.



Back in the work environment, this constant pressure, fuelled by a “hustle harder” culture and a deep-seated fear of missing out on social events we’re ‘expected at’, or once wanted to attend, can take its hefty toll.


Stress is all around and yet nowhere to be seen – stress literally leaves us with nothing to grab a hold of and everything to feel.

Anxiety whispers doubts, depression casts a shadow, and anger flares when tasks pile up.



The likely culprit? Multitasking

While it might seem like the ultimate productivity hack, and everyone shouting from high up on the horse that “getting things done makes you feel good and creates dopamine and and and”, research paints a different picture.

Yes, dopamine does make you feel energised and motivated, AND can lead to a sense that you’re on course, heading in the direction you want to go.

But studies show that multitasking impairs focus, increases errors, raises stress levels, and reduces overall performance.

It’s like trying to conduct a symphony with one hand on the piano and the other on the drums – it’s chaotic and ultimately, ineffective.


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are you juggling too much?

People-Pleasing: The Invisible Chain of Over-Commitment

Running in parallel to the over-chaotic mind state of multi-tasking is the struggle with personal boundaries.

Often personal boundaries can be crossed in order to help others, in some cases, or to make sure that ‘those others’ aren’t displeased that we’re not helping them.

We can find that we throw ourselves under the bus so that everyone else is good.

Good for them.

Not so good for us.

We’re left with the duel feeling of heightened stress – depleted exhaustion, coupled with the opposing feeling that we’ve done all that we can to help everyone. And that might have a confusing push/pull feeling. But helping someone is good for all, isn’t it? Well. maybe not so much.

People-pleasing is often subtle like a chain we don’t realise we’re wearing until it starts to restrict our movements. Here’s how it manifests in different areas:


Workplace Woes:

  • Saying “yes” to everything: Deadlines loom, colleagues pile on requests, and you find yourself saying “yes” out of fear of disappointing them or appearing unhelpful. This over-commitment leads to burnout and resentment towards your workload.


  • Difficulty delegating: You feel responsible for every detail, micromanaging tasks instead of trusting your team. This not only hinders your own productivity but also stifles their growth and sense of ownership.


  • “Invisible overtime”: You stay late answering emails or finishing tasks, blurring the line between work and personal life. This constant availability sets an unrealistic expectation for yourself and breeds exhaustion.


  • Emotional labour toll: You bottle up frustrations and suppress your feelings to maintain a harmonious work environment. This emotional suppression takes a toll on your mental well-being and can lead to passive-aggressive behaviours.


  • Fear of negative feedback: You constantly seek validation and approval, taking constructive criticism personally. This fear hinders your growth and learning opportunities, keeping you stuck in a cycle of people-pleasing.


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Beyond Work: Setting Limits with Loved Ones:

  • Always available: You drop everything to answer calls, texts, and requests from friends and family, neglecting your own needs and priorities. This constant availability creates an expectation of immediate responsiveness, draining your energy and blurring personal boundaries.


  • Overstepping boundaries: You offer unsolicited advice, fix problems without being asked, or prioritise others’ needs over your own, creating resentment and hindering healthy relationships.


  • “Yes” to social obligations: You feel pressured to attend every gathering, agree to favours, or participate in activities you don’t enjoy, leaving you drained and resentful.


  • Guilt trips and manipulation: You feel obligated to fulfill others’ expectations out of guilt or fear of hurting their feelings, allowing them to manipulate your choices.


  • Difficulty saying “no”: You struggle to decline requests, even when they conflict with your own plans or needs, leading to frustration and resentment.


Now, no one here is saying ‘Drop everyone in favour of little old Me Me Me’. Far from it.

It’s worth noting that setting healthy boundaries isn’t about being selfish; it’s about self-care, and creating space for well-being and growth.

And remember, if we take the slide down to ‘crash and burn’ everything around us starts to head that way too.

We think we’re giving 100%, but really it’s in a diminishing way. Our capacity deteriorates, and we start to give 100% of 80% capability, or 70%, 60, 50… less?

You get the picture.

Stress down and back on top and you have ample resources and availability for others, and now you can give, as and when you feel it’s good and right to do so.

Recognising these subtle signs of people-pleasing is the first step towards reclaiming time, energy, and emotional space to build fulfilling relationships and a happier you, AND being able to help others in a more efficient and manageable way.


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Single-Tasking: Your Ticket to Calm

Single-tasking isn’t about laziness; it’s about being intentional with your work, being self-aware, and allowing compassion toward your present and future needs.

It’s about prioritising your well-being and reclaiming control of your time and attention. Imagine focusing on one task at a time, giving it your full presence and energy. The quality of your work would soar, your stress levels would plummet, and a sense of calm would wash over you.


Cal Newport’s Deep Work Philosophy

Author Cal Newport, in his book “Deep Work,” champions this approach.

He advocates for focused, distraction-free sessions where you tackle one meaningful task at a time. Imagine the satisfaction of completing a project without constant interruptions, the joy of immersing yourself in the flow of deep work!


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But How Do We Begin? 

Well, as always, one piece at a time.

Newport offers practical tools to guide you on this journey:

Identify Deep Work Projects

Not all tasks deserve your focused attention.

Remember the feeling of conquering a complex puzzle or mastering a new skill? That’s the magic of “Deep Work,” as defined by Cal Newport.

Identify projects that truly matter: writing a critical report, tackling a creative challenge, or developing a valuable skill.

Schedule these projects in dedicated “Deep Work Sessions” – sacred blocks of time free from distractions. Treat them like appointments with your most important self.


Minimize Distractions

Silence notifications on your phone and computer.

Distractions lurk like digital sirens, luring you away from deep work.

Temporarily disable email and social media – HIDE YOUR PHONE – Yes, I did just say that! Remember this is temporary (maybe just 20 minutes) – you will get back to the phone and calls and messages etc. It’s surprising how freeing it is once you’ve tried it.

And yeah, I get it – we ALL get sucked into doom scrolling from time to time, but putting blocks in to cause just enough distance or effort can have us swiftly engaging a little logic and return us to the work in hand.

Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman has previously stated that even though he’s fully aware of the need to focus and that his phone can be his nemesis to this cause, he occasionally locks his phone in the car, or has even been known to throw his phone up on a roof (he works in California – rain is less of an issue that a grey London in Feb!) – such is the pull for him to stare at the screen.


Embrace The Dull

Don’t be afraid of boredom!

It’s a fertile ground for creativity.

Newport suggests a “boredom buffer,” where you schedule short periods of deliberate offline time to recharge and spark new ideas.

Stare out of a window somewhere – walk without conversation (or your phone! – see paragraph before 🙂

Remember, focus is a muscle, and minimising distractions is its training regimen.


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Celebrate Your Deep Victories

Deep work isn’t magic; it’s a deliberate practice.

Track your progress! After each session, note down what you accomplished.

It’s a 2-minute trick that sparks the mind into ‘what I’ve done‘, over ‘what I need to do‘.

I call this the TaDaa list with my clients. And how often the To-Do list (miserably long as it often is), always takes priority over the more positive and motivating TaDaa list.

Try it. You’ll be surprised how, over time, this simple task begins to create a more positive enthusiastic mindset (more about this in a future blog!)

Celebrating even small wins reinforces positive behaviour. Newport suggests a “Deep Work Log” – a journal where you track your sessions, goals, and successes, although for most this would be more of a TaDaa list for the future. But today, start small. Go big tomorrow.


Batch Cook Your Tasks For Efficiency

Imagine juggling emails, phone calls, and errands – it’s context-switching chaos!

Instead, batch similar tasks together.

Dedicate specific times for emails, errands, or phone calls. This minimizes context switching, reducing mental fatigue and boosting efficiency.

Newport’s “Timeboxing” technique helps: allocate specific time slots for specific tasks, treating each as a mini-deep work session.

You NEVER return to the task you were doing 5 minutes ago before you peeled off for someone else’s ‘urgent’ email or that call that could have waited for another 20 minutes – even if the person on the other end of the line ‘expects’ YOU to be available on demand.


Delegate or Eliminate

Not all things require your expertise.

Explore delegation! Can a colleague handle that report? Can a virtual assistant manage your emails?

Remember, “Delegation is not laziness, it’s leverage,” as Newport emphasises.

Alternatively, consider eliminating tasks altogether.

Is that meeting truly necessary? Can you automate certain processes?

Saying “no” to unnecessary tasks frees up time and energy for your quality pursuits of depth.




Embrace The “No”

THIS is a biggy!

People-pleasing often leads to saying “yes” to everything, and that leaves NO room for your own deep, intense, and ultimately satisfying work.

Your time is precious currency!

Practice saying “no” gracefully and clearly to requests that don’t align with your priorities.


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Pick One, And Dream

Not everyone can initial these ideas easily and simply into their existing behaviours.

But remember, the intention here is to offer you positive alternatives that you can bring into your life, in your own way, as simply as possible.

Pick the one that stands out. Makes logical sense. And daydream upon it.

Your mind only starts to seed these beneficial thoughts into your schedule when rest is being experienced (and I mean FULL rest – no external stimulation at all)


For those who want change but find it hard to initiate, then perhaps a guide along this journey may be the helping hand you need.

Online and Face-To-Face Hypnotherapy: 

Hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool alongside single-tasking and can be your support through change.

For those who are unaware of therapeutic hypnotherapy and consider hypnosis about juggling custard and running around like a headless chicken on stage, therapeutic hypnotherapy is not about mind control or suggestion, but rather harnessing the natural power of your mind to create achievable change.


online therapy



How Hypnotherapy Works:

Solution-focused hypnotherapy focuses on:

  • Direction Recognition: Knowing the way you want to go always comes to mind more easily when you’re calm and relaxed, yet able to maintain focus and concentration
  • Goal Setting: Taking logical, achievable, and manageable ideas and plotting them into your mental diary
  • Intense Absorption: Using guided imagery and relaxation techniques to achieve a state of focused attention, where you can access your inner resources and strengths.
  • Cognitive Flexibility: Exploring new perspectives and challenging limiting beliefs that might be holding you back from single-tasking effectively.
  • Dissociation: Stepping back from negative emotions and viewing them objectively, reducing their power and enhancing emotional control.

These processes facilitate brain and behavioural changes, reducing the grip of anxiety, depression, and the fight-or-flight response.

It’s a natural, calming way to support your well-being and embrace single-tasking with confidence.


A Round Up

Single-tasking is not about laziness; it’s about intentional efficiency and self-compassion.

It’s about prioritising your well-being whilst at the same time being even better at delivering key areas that need focus and attention.

And it’s about reclaiming control of your time, and what’s important TO YOU.

You deserve a life filled with calm, focus, and happiness, and single-tasking may just be your key to unlocking it.





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