Single Handling Tasks

The other day I received an email from someone at work with a problem for me to address. I opened it and saw what it was and decided it was too complex for me to easily solve right now, so I replied that I’d take a look at it soon and started to move on. Then I remembered something I’ve heard Brian Tracy mention many times: practice single-handling tasks.

You see, it wasn’t that I couldn’t do anything on this task right now, it was that I didn’t want to! It wasn’t going to be straightforward, and was going to require some thought, and some coordination with other people, and who has the energy for all that right now?

But here’s the problem: every time you open that email or pick up that paper you have to spend time coming up to speed on what it says. You have to switch everything out of your mind and put this task back into it. If you do like I’ve often done and open it 3 or 4 or 10 times before you eventually do something with it you can sometimes spend as much time trying to get started as actually doing it!

So what did I do with that email? I opened it right back up and handled it. I spent the time to think about what was required, and emailed the people from whom I needed input, and made some notes, and basically took it as far as I could at that point. Then I was able to archive that email – it wasn’t sitting there in my inbox waiting for me to open it over and over, causing me never-ending stress.

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