THE BLOG
01/28/2016 05:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Doing Everything Makes You Less Productive: Here's Why

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Many people think that they need to be good in everything before they can live very successful lives. I disagree. Success depends on how well you measure up to the standard you have set for yourself. And the easy way to attain it is to focus on excelling in the things you have a natural advantage in.

Personally I have a few strengths and a lot of other things I suck at. For instance, I can't paint, and I'm not a programmer either. I am also a below average pianist, and most applied sciences are extremely difficult for me to grasp.

However, there are a few things I can do exceptionally well. Some of them are public speaking, writing articles, and public relations. Because most of my attention is focused mainly on them, I have watched myself improve over time without any formal training.

If I choose to divide my interests across a wide range of activities, it will definitely affect my output. I mean, we all have the same number of hours. I can choose to spend my time maximizing my strengths or managing my areas of weaknesses. I can choose to spend my waking hours on the few things I am good at or I can choose to spread myself thin over a wide range of activities.

If I choose the later, I am bound to have less productive days, because:

1. You cannot become an expert unless you specialize
You can't do everything and still perform optimally in all of them. You can at best remain average. Success in any field requires a lot of focus and concentration.

As an investor for instance, you should be familiar with different kinds of trading such as forex trading, stocks, binary options trading, and bonds, but you can't be an expert in all the investment vehicles out there, so you should pick the right one for you.

For you to be an expert, you need to specialize in that area. That is why there are specialist doctors and general surgeons. Doing everything simply means that you are not a specialist, and that is another way of saying you are not yet an expert in that field.

2. Jack of all trade is still master of none
I once got elected to work in an organization as the organizing secretary and a publicity secretary. I loved both offices with all my heart.

But guess what?

I couldn't deliver effectively at the level I know I should have. Why? I couldn't give my best in both offices at the same time.

If your concentration span is 100 percent for instance, focusing on two different things simply means it has been divided into two. It doesn't mean you now have two areas where you can give 100 percent each and make 200 percent. Instead it means your efficiency in both things is now at 50 percent.

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Remember that great opera singer who is equally a terrific lawyer, and also an incredible pediatrician that got awarded as the best physicist and an exceptional investment banker?

Of course you don't, he doesn't exist.

And even if he does, his performance level will be below average in all those things. He will never be exceptional. It becomes worse if the activities that are spreading him thin are things he doesn't love.

Multi-tasking is a special ability, I know. But have you ever wondered why it will take longer to concurrently download 20 very large files from the internet than it would if you chose to download them consecutively?

It is simply because less is more.

It is almost impossible to be exceptional as a novelist, an event planner, a mathematician and a fashion designer at the same time. Simply put, the more you do, the less productive you become.

If you have only one or two things you are very good at, don't worry. Hone those skills. Work on them until you perfect them and become excellent in them. The more you do this, the more productive you become.

3. You are not Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci is attributed to be the most diversely talented person that has ever lived. He was equally recognized as the most universal genius of all time.

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He was a great painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, inventor, anatomist, musician, writer and polymath.

That guy was bundle of talents. He could have been ten men as one man. I admire him, but from a distance. I am not like him in any way. He was exceptional, and that is why he is still recognized

The good news is that we all have different talents and potentials that make us unique. That is why you can always differentiate between Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. Their fans refer to them as the vocal trinity, but they are each unique in their own way.

Similarly every football player is especially good in a particular wing. A good defender is not expected to be a good goal scorer. And a good midfielder is not expected to be good at the goal post as a goal keeper. To be productive, you need to focus on doing a few things you can be exceptional in.

You can't be good in everything, neither are you supposed to do everything. That is not the way the human race was made. You were made to be exceptional in just a few things. No matter how much you work on your areas of weakness, the best you can be is a little above average.

Transfer that aggressive drive for results in one thing and see how productive you will become all of a sudden. Focus on being the best in those few things and you will get results that will beat your wildest imagination.