The One Thing

Per the suggestion of a writing mentor, I am reading through a book called The One Thing.  It is a book that teaches readers to stop multitasking and instead focus their entire attention on one thing, specifically the one thing that they've been called to do.  I haven't gotten very far in the book yet, but I already realize that I have a problem--I'm a multitasking freak!

Let me give you a brief rundown of what my typical week involves:  writing, reading, studying, taking a writing class, podcasting, blogging, marketing my books, keeping up with five different websites, teaching Sunday School, picking out and practicing songs for church, going to church, running errands, housekeeping, cooking meals, caring for my husband and dog, and so on.  You get the point, right?  In my mind, there are simply too many things on that list to accomplish the items one at a time.  Multitasking seems like the logical plan.

Unfortunately, research has shown that multitasking doesn't make us more productive.  In fact, it does the exact opposite.  It causes more stress, allows us to make more mistakes, and eats up more time than doing one thing at a time.  Who knew?

God did, for He told us the same thing in His Word on more than one occasion.  The first part of Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.  Whatever we're doing, we should give it our all, and we can't do that if we're multitasking.  It is impossible to give all our focus, attention and energy to one thing when we're trying to do four things at once.  Instead, we should focus on one thing until it is completed and then move on to the next thing.  One thing at a time!

Still not convinced?  Check out what Jesus said to Martha in Luke 10: And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (vs. 41-42)  I believe with all my heart that Martha was trying to serve God the only way she knew how--multitasking.  She was careful and troubled about many things.  Was there going to be enough soup for everyone?  Did the napkins match the tablecloths?  Were the servants going to wash the feet of her guests, or was she going to have to do that too?  The rolls!  The cake!  And where is Mary?

You know the story, the frustrated hostess marches out to Jesus and commands Him to tell Mary to help her.  She meant well, bless her heart, but she really could have used to take a moment to work on her delivery.  Jesus, undeterred by her harshness, pointed out the problem wasn't with Mary but with Martha.  First off, Martha was trying to do too much, and it was working her into a tizzy (sound familiar?).  Second, notice the wording that Jesus used next:  "One thing is needful."  One thing!  Specifically, the one thing that Mary was doing at the moment--worshiping God.  Notice the difference in the temperaments of the two siblings.  Martha is frazzled, angry and bitter.  Mary is peaceful, calm and full of love for her Master.  Still think multitasking is a good thing?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.  Everything has its own time.  When it's time to work, let us focus on the ONE project at hand and finish it before moving on to another rather than having fifteen irons in the fire at once.  When it's time to worship, let us put everything else aside and focus on our Lord and Savior.  When it's time for family, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and give one another your undivided attention.  Right now, at this moment, one thing is needful.  Discover that one thing and do it, then continue the process throughout the day, and see if you don't feel more productive and less stressed.

*Disclaimer:  I am placing a purchase link to the book, The One Thing, below.  Please note that I have not finished reading the book and therefore cannot vouch that everything in it is Christ-honoring.  It is not a Christian book, but I felt some of you might be interested in it nonetheless.