The Importance of Staying on Task

Modernization of educational standards aims at training a competent specialist capable of self-organization, constant formation and development of competitive advantages. Becoming a professional is impossible without the motivation to achieve goals, the ability to prioritize objectives, and the skills to focus on specific tasks. Sometimes it can be difficult to focus on a task and not be distracted by outside factors. It is a challenge to achieve concentration in practice if to live in a world where there is literally a struggle for people attention. It is hard to focus on one thing in today’s reality of social media, smartphones, and hypertext links. Nevertheless, success in all matters depends, first of all, on how well a person can concentrate on the task or problem which has to be solved: how long and how clearly he or she can keep it in the focus of consciousness, without being distracted by anything else. A lot of facts accumulated by psychology unambiguously indicate the following: the better a person concentrates on the performed action or task, the better he or she will cope with them (Van Der Stigchel, 2020). Accordingly, the better the concentration skill is developed, the more this person will be successful in what he or she is doing.

When concentrating on one problem, there is a complete “immersion” in it: intensive thinking, consideration and study, coming up with and testing different solutions. In this case, the most efficient use of intellectual and physical resources is observed. The problem with multitasking lies in the fact that multitasking has become an element of modern culture and is calmly accepted by people as the norm. At the same time, the chronic multitasking regime leads not only to a deterioration in the quality of work, but also to a decrease in the skill of concentration voluntarily, with the inner desire to solve the task, and not only because of responsibility to do it (Van Der Stigchel, 2020). This does not mean that there is no need to develop the skill of multitasking, but the ability to correctly prioritize and focus primarily on solving the most important tasks is necessary. This prioritizing is important, as constantly jumping from one task to another, a person unlearns for a long time and cannot concentrate on one thing productively.

Employers value employee multitasking, but no one is able to maintain 100 percent productivity for many months while tackling many issues at the same time. The most effective strategy of activity is the principle of “one task at one time period.” Moreover, this applies not only to work, but to all our daily affairs: leisure, communication, education, sports. It helps to rank cases according to their importance and urgency. The strategy of ‘one task at the moment’ allows concentrating well on only one task at a time. It should be noted that this regards not only everyday work and household tasks, but also large-scale life goals, for example, the successful completion of studies at a business school and obtaining an MBA diploma.

In addition, a person who constantly lives in a multitasking mode and does not know how to separate the main issues from the secondary ones loses the skills of a creative approach to solving problems. In the absence of deep “immersion” in one specific task, it is impossible to explore all the possibilities and make benefit from the most of them. In this case, an individual cannot fully concentrate on one thing, as some of the attention is always distracted. However, while working on one task, it is rational to think partly about another. Considering modern theories of attention, one can conclude that they have one thing in common – they prove the limitations of the capabilities of our nervous system (Van Der Stigchel, 2020). In addition, stress factors of intense work situations negatively affect emotional state of employees – they lose the ability to switch attention properly, and, thus, feel internal insecurity. In such conditions, the skill of focusing on a specific task becomes especially important.

At the same time, concentration means focusing on only one object, process, or activity. This will help drawing up a plan, which will organize all the many tasks and responsibilities that need to be performed. This can be a plan for a day, a week, or a whole month. Only after completing one task and marking its completion, one can proceed to the next. In addition to focusing on the task and the corresponding effective solution to it, this approach will, among other things, improve time management skills.

Lack of interest in the task reduces the ability to concentrate. However, it is hard to have an interest in a task that seems boring. However, if the task is interesting, then the person copes with it with ease. The situation is different with tasks that a person does not like, in which, at first glance, there is no sense. To force self to fulfill such tasks, an incentive is needed – in fact, to see the positive moments in an activity that a person does not want to do, but has to do – this means motivation in solving the tasks. Thus, the skill of focusing on a task can help to deal with own internal mechanisms of motivation. Focusing on the task contributes to a rational and well-thought assessment of the goal of its implementation and allows adjusting it if necessary. In addition, only concentration allows solving the problem, guided by the concept of SMART goals – a concept which is widely accepted in scientific community and in practice of business companies.

Goal-setting refers to the motivational sphere of the individual when he or she is faced with a situation that challenges the person’s sense of competence; this is especially evident in the learning process. Traditionally, psychological research has distinguished two categories of goal achievement or motivation: motivation of success and motivation of failure avoidance (Meadows, 2017). In turn, success motivation refers to behavior that is ‘fueled’ by the possibility of a positive or desired outcome, while motivation to avoid failure refers to behavior that is fueled by the possibility of a negative or undesirable outcome. Obviously, focusing on a task is one of the most important skills in both life and the workplace, and this skill should be constantly developed. An individual can do it themselves in the process of daily practice, or it is possible to pass specialized training. However, the most important element of task concentration skill is not so much goal-setting techniques as choosing the right focus of movement and maintaining balance in different spheres of life.


Meadows, M. (2017). From failure to success: Everyday habits and exercises to build mental resilience and turn failures into successes. Meadows Publishing.

Van Der Stigchel, S. (2020). Concentration: Staying focused in times of distraction. The MIT Press.

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