When it comes to business, many people rave about multi-tasking. It seems to make sense--everyone has so many things to do (and is so stuck for time) that doing several things at once works.

But over time, I've realized that when I don't give tasks 100 percent of my attention, things don't get done to 100 percent of my satisfaction.

Doing more isn't necessarily better.

Experts have found that multi-tasking reduces productivity by as much as 40 percent, lowers the person's IQ and creates a larger margin for error.

In extreme cases, multi-tasking can lead to health problems and even death when people don't allow themselves to rest, or when they work too hard. They also cost themselves sleep through insomnia, stress and depression. Multi-tasked while driving can lead to collisions.

Today, single-tasking is the new multi-tasking, but it's going to take some time for everyone to get on board with this belief. So in a world where some people are still expecting you to do it all, how do you handle single-tasking?

Here are four places to start:

1. Choose what's important to you--and stick with it

There are only 24 hours in a day. We all have the same amount of time to get things done, so you need to prioritize, stand firm, and genuinely commit to your choices.

You can do more than one thing per day--just make sure to do one thing at a time. Give that one thing your all, then move on to the next one.

2. Live in the moment

Many of us spend every minute of our lives looking towards the next thing. When you were a child, you wanted to be a teenager. When you were a teenager, you wanted to be out of school so that you could start working. Now that you're working, you look forward to the weekend.

Constantly looking forward to other things is how you miss the little moments that make up life. Living in the present, and soaking up every minute, is how you make the most of your life.

3. Write it down

If you have too many thoughts swirling around in your head, it will rob you of sleep, downtime, and eventually, the concentration you need to get things done as well. Overloading yourself with anything, including thoughts, is never a good thing.

Learn to park ideas in a designated place until you can deal with them. Keep a notebook by your bed, or keep your phone handy so you can make notations as they come up.

Turn off distractions. Take control of your workspace and gadgets by limiting smartphone and email time. Disable the call waiting function on your phone and let calls go to voicemail, and put a "do not disturb" sign on your office door when you're in meetings or need quiet time to concentrate on a project.

4. Schedule your tasks

Studies show that checking texts and emails for even a minute or two at a time can add up to huge chunks of time every day. Lump these tasks together.

For example, check your email first thing in the morning, just before lunch, and at the end of the workday. Don't check your email at any other point during the day.

By taking control and completing tasks one at a time, you will be able to actually check things off your to-do list each day as opposed to semi-completing multiple jobs. I feel accomplished each time I cross something off the list--it's revitalizing and makes me want to do it again and again.

Published on: Dec 21, 2016
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.