“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
James 1:5-8

There’s a lot to discuss in these verses. What I want to focus on is verse 8, but I didn’t want to misconstrue the Bible’s overall meaning. Asking something in faith, without doubting, is hard. I am thankful that God gives us liberally from His boundless provision. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

The focus of this discussion is what God showed me by having me apply the idea of “double-minded” to my work and productivity. I know, that’s not what this verse is specifically talking about, but stick with me as we journey down this rabbit hole together.

We often pride ourselves on our ability to multitask, but what if splitting our focus is a form of double-mindedness?

God says in verse 8 that “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” When our minds are constantly shifting back and forth, when we can’t focus long enough to carefully consider the task before us before making a decision, we become unstable. Unreliable. Prone to mistakes. 

I used to think I could multitask with the best of them. But I’ve come to realize that I do my best work when I’m focused. Instead of fitting two projects into one time slot, I can improve my effectiveness and quality of work by simply doing one thing at a time. 

Single-tasking is an underrated productivity plan that has been overlooked for far too long.

Rather than writing a newsletter while thinking about packing for my next trip, and making a grocery list, if I stop and focus on the newsletter from subject line to sign off, the end result is a cohesive, informative, well-written newsletter. This is much better than a fractured work that is pieced together one paragraph at a time while I “multitask” and do two or three other things at the same time.

When I single-task:

This even applies to tasks that require less mental agility. I recently decided to make a paracord belt (I had never done this before) while listening to a podcast. It seemed straightforward and like the perfect way to multitask two projects that needed to be done. But when my focus shifted from the belt to the podcaster, I would miss a weave or not get the tension right and when I focused on the belt, I would miss something important the podcaster was saying. 

Would the results have been different if this was my 50th belt to weave rather than my first? Probably. But it drove home the point that God had made earlier in the week about the dangers of being double-minded in my work. 

That’s also not to say that multitasking is evil, I do know people who can do it well in some cases and when pairing specific tasks. I think we can all agree that multitasking is a requirement when parenting; there are times when it is necessary. But I think it’s time to stop idealizing multitasking. High achievers single-task to produce excellence. They know when to stop multitasking and instead to set aside time to focus on one single project. 

If you want to produce reliable, consistent, excellent work, give single-tasking a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can accomplish if you do.

May God spark a single-minded focus that creates works of excellence in all you do.