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Taming the Monkey Mind: The Power of Single-Tasking

Updated: Jun 22


Illustration titled 'Taming the Monkey Mind: The Power of Single-Tasking,' showing an African American person with a monkey inside their brain.


It's tough to stay focused these days with so many things vying for our attention. Today, let's try something different—focus on one thing at a time. Finish a task before moving on to the next. Multitasking makes us lose focus since it takes about 20+ minutes to refocus each time. If you struggle with focusing, set a timer for 25 minutes using the Pomodoro Method—one of my favorites for staying on track. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb so you can concentrate fully on just that one task.


For example, trying to answer emails, text your best friend back, check social media, and listen to YouTube all at once can drive your mind out of whack over time.


When we juggle too many things, we get what's called the monkey mind. Rooted in Buddhism, it describes a mental state where our thoughts swing from one idea to the next like a monkey swinging from branch to branch.


Having a monkey mind leads to:


1. Increased anxiety

2. Reduced productivity

3. Difficulty making decisions

4. Poor memory

5. Decreased creativity

6. Emotional instability

7. Insomnia

8. Impulsiveness


Don't just take my word for it. Here's some scientific evidence supporting single-tasking:


1. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that frequent multitasking can increase stress and anxiety (Mark, Gudith, & Klocke, 2008).

2. Stanford University research showed that multitasking can reduce productivity by 40% due to the brain's time to switch tasks (Ophir, Nass, & Wagner, 2009).

3. The University of London found that multitasking can temporarily lower one’s IQ by up to 15 points, similar to sleep deprivation (Hewlett Packard, 2005).


So, practice focusing on one thing at a time before jumping to the next branch. Even doing this once a day can help calm the monkey mind. Over time, add more chunks of centered time into your day, like time blocking, and include moments of stillness. You'll become more centered, focused, and productive, feeling greater satisfaction by completing tasks efficiently.


Don't overwhelm yourself. Taking baby steps will get you to your goal faster than trying to do everything at once. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow down, focus on one thing at a time, and let me know how you feel afterward. Less is more. It's better to get 1-3 things done in a day than to cram your whole to-do list into one day, leading to burnout and making it harder to keep up that pace.


Single-tasking is a skill that takes practice, but it's worth it. By taming your monkey mind and focusing on one thing at a time, you'll improve productivity and reduce stress and anxiety. Start small, be patient, and celebrate your progress. As you master single-tasking, you'll find more mental clarity, creativity, and overall well-being. Take that first step today and see how it transforms your life. Trust me; your mind will thank you!


As R. Buckminster Fuller, the renowned inventor and architect, once said, “A man is able to do more with less and less and less." By embracing the power of single-tasking, you'll achieve more with less stress and more focus. Let's tame that monkey mind together!



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