Do one thing at a time with excellence

D. Murali | Updated on May 26, 2012


The foremost diktat in The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling ( is to focus on the wildly important. The first discipline, the authors explain, is to focus your finest effort on the one or two goals that will make all the difference, instead of giving mediocre effort to dozens of goals.

To those who extol multitasking, a sobering insight in the book is that human beings are genetically hardwired to do one thing at a time with excellence. “You can't even give your best effort to driving a car while talking on a mobile phone and eating a burger, let alone juggle multiple important business goals at once.”

The authors cite MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller for the point that trying to concentrate on two tasks causes an overload of the brain's processing capacity. “Particularly when people try to perform similar tasks at the same time, such as writing an email and talking on the phone, they compete to use the same part of the brain. Trying to carry too much, the brain simply slows down.”

Imperative read for any manager.

Published on May 18, 2012

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