Short of time? Multitask.

Newspapers tell us that women are better at it than men. Men tell us they are just as good really. Neurologists tell us that there’s no such thingLady in pink with bucket over head: we appear to multitask by doing two or more things in very quick succession, rather like the rapid still frames of a movie appear to create movement. No matter, it feels the same, so what’s the problem?

Well, my problem is that I don’t like it. The First Harris Rule of Happiness is Do One Thing At A Time.

The history of human civilisation is the story of progression from multitasking to specialisation.

Once we all had to do everything: hunt, gather, fight, groom each other for fleas, you name it. Then we split things up and some people became hunters, some became gatherers, some became religious shamans, some became court jesters… and some became writers.

You know, I like that. But now things are going the other way. I partly blame the Internet – in the old days we had to pay people to do jobs we now do for ourselves for free. Great savings of money – not so great on our time.

Now instead of hiring an expert to do my VAT, answer letters, book travel and deal with publicity (to name but a few) I hire myself, a non-expert, and have less time to do what I am expert in and love to do: write, direct and teach.

What I do know is that if you’re stuck in your writing, you may find you’re trying to do too many things at once. All creative artists need to focus.

Single-task.

Don’t try to prejudge the quality. Don’t try to edit while you write the draft. Don’t try to second-guess your audience. Switch off the emails, plan out the treatment, lock the door and write. It’s the only way.

And while you’re at it, you might want to single-task other areas of your life too: it’s the short-cut to true happiness.