Episode 005 – Choose One Thing

This week it’s all about picking that one priority. One thing to rule them all!

We bust the myth of multi-tasking and talk about all the advantages of getting focused, both when it comes to your daily task list AND your big picture.

Answer our question of the week in the comments section below. What’s your current priority?


Hello Navigators. Welcome to Writer Roadmap, the podcast for writers seeking inspiration, guidance, and support on their creative journey. I’m your host, Holly Lyne, and in today’s episode we’ll be talking about the power of having just one priority. For all you multi-taskers out there, we’re going to bust some myths today.

To start, let’s talk about what it means to have only one priority. When we hear that term, it doesn’t mean you only ever have one task to do, but rather, at any given moment, there is only one task you are focusing on. It’s about choosing where your energy goes at a specific time, rather than trying to juggle multiple tasks at once.

When we embark on our writing journey, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done: writing, editing, publishing, marketing, the list goes on. By choosing one priority, you give yourself the permission to focus, to allow your creative energy to flow freely into one thing at a time.

Now, there’s a bit of a linguistic and logical twist I want to touch on here. You see, by its very nature, the word ‘priority’ defies plurality. ‘Priority’ comes from the Latin ‘prior,’ meaning ‘first.’ When you have a ‘priority,’ it implies that it’s the ‘first’ or ‘most important’ thing. So, the concept of having ‘multiple priorities’ is a contradiction in itself. When we say we have ‘multiple priorities,’ what we’re really saying is that we haven’t decided which task or goal is the ‘first’ or ‘most important’ one. By narrowing it down to one priority at any given moment, we align our actions with the true meaning of the word, thus allowing for more effective, focused work.

Let’s talk about multitasking and get this out of the way, because I know some of you are thinking, ‘But Holly, I’m great at multitasking!’. Well, here’s the thing. The concept of multitasking is a bit of a myth. While it feels like you’re doing many things at once, your brain is actually just switching rapidly between tasks. And this constant shifting can lead to errors, decreased productivity, and even burnout. Our brains are designed to handle tasks better when they come one at a time.

When we try to divide our attention, we’re simply not as accurate or efficient. This isn’t to say that it’s never possible to multi-task. Efficient use of our time probably will include doing two things at once fairly often. But one of those two things needs to require very little mental processing.

So, for example, you might listen to a podcast while folding laundry or driving your kids somewhere. Or you may dictate your next chapter into your phone while you walk the dog. You can be thinking about how your character will react to the next plot twist while doing the washing up. These kinds of mutli-tasking are the kinds of things we do all the time without a problem.

The issue is when we think that we can work on our book at the same time as creating social media content. We physically can’t do both of those things at the same time and if we try to flit between the two tasks, both will take longer than if we pick one and prioritise it.

In my experience, when I focus on one thing at a time, my productivity improves significantly. You’re also less likely to feel stressed or overwhelmed. It’s a simple but effective method for managing your workload.

The principle of prioritising matters on the day-to-day level of picking what tasks to do,can also be applied to the big picture. While we can have several goals in any given month, quarter or year, it can still be beneficial to give one of them priority. But how do we choose?

It helps to decide what your longer term vision for your life looks like, or to pick a core value for your life. For example, my word for this year, and therefore my core value and vision for my life is “passion”. I want to do the things that I’m passionate about. Having this guiding principle helps me to decide what to focus on and what opportunities to pass up.

Applying this principle to your overall writing career is really beneficial. Perhaps your one priority at this stage is to complete your first manuscript, or maybe it’s to build your online presence as an author. Embrace it, focus on it, and see how your productivity soars.

You may also find it useful to divide your life into different areas, such as health, family and work and pick one priority for each area. This can help you to maintain some sense of balance in your life and divide your time up in a sustainable way.

I just read The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. In it, they talk about how it’s impossible to maintain a completely even balance between two areas of life if you are driven to want exceptional things from any one area. Our home and family life and our health all require frequent attention in order to keep everything in good condition. But work, especially work that we’re passionate about, can pull us away from other things. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as we have systems in place to keep everything else ticking over.

I know that I do my best writing when I’m singularly focused on writing as much as possible. I can spend a month immersed in my writing while my husband picks up the lion’s share of housework and parenting. But I can’t expect to maintain that month in month out all year round. That wouldn’t be good for our family or my creative energy levels. But your situation may be different and how you work best will be unique to you.

But for the vast majority of us, picking one priority at a time will be the most efficient way to get things done.

That’s all from me for now. I’d love to hear from you. What’s your one thing right now? Let me know on Spotify or Instagram @hblyne.

Thank you for listening and happy planning.

Writer Roadmap intro and outro music used under license from Pixabay. Music track “Salangseuleoun” was Created by “Dayfox”.

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