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Mono-tasking: The Trick to Saving Your Attention and Getting Things Done

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

By Ella Holton-McCoy and Sean McCormick M.Ed, ET

What is something that you have to pay but doesn’t cost anything in dollars?

Your attention!

Our ability to pay attention is one of the most precious commodities that we possess. In our fast paced, ever changing world, our attention is constantly being redirected. Picture this: you are sitting in the living room watching TV when suddenly an advertisement comes on, your phone lights up with a notification from Instagram, suddenly your phone dings and your group chat starts blowing up. What do you pay attention to? Can you pay attention to all three at once?

Despite popular belief that humans can multitask, in reality we can only task shift, not do multiple tasks at once. So, no, you cannot pay attention to Instagram, the advertisement on the TV, and the group chat conversation. I bet you’d feel pretty exhausted if you tried to do all three of those for longer than a few minutes. Am I right?

The best strategy to combat this attention battle is to practice mono-tasking. Mono-tasking simply means doing one task at a time. Crazy, right? We know what you are thinking: “But Ella and Sean, how will I ever get all the things done?” Believe us, you will be more productive and feel less fatigued when you start mono-tasking.

How can you start practicing mono-tasking? You can start by making a to-do list so you are aware of all the tasks that you should complete. Then, you can set a 25 minute timer using a kitchen timer, the website, or the app Forest Timer. After you focus on one task for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break. Repeat. Once you complete that task, check it off your list. Repeat.

You can picture mono-tasking like adding coins into your task piggy bank. By paying more focused attention to one task, you are adding more coins to your task piggy bank as opposed to multitasking in which you are adding maybe one or two coins to 5 or 6 different task piggy banks. The one or two coins here and there will take you quite a while to fill up that piggy bank!

Would you like to learn more strategies for getting organized and completing tasks? An executive function coach is the ideal professional to help support anyone trying to develop better executive functioning skills. At EF Specialists, our team of education experts can create an individualized plan to help you build those necessary executive function skills needed for successful learning.

Visit to sign up for a free 15-minute consultation and learn more about how we can help!

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EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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