Single tasking in a stoic manner and avoiding being counterproductive; Dissecting Meditations, a personal journal by Marcus Aurelius Part #13

What you are getting into: 381 words, 2mins read

Here, I will share my contemplations upon reading the published personal journal of Marcus Aurelius, a roman emperor from 161-180 AD. Thoughts mainly stemmed from Stoicism, and Marcus Aurelius used the notes for guidance and self improvement. It’s a translated book by Gregory Hays, or you can read it online.

For this and upcoming posts I attempt to dissect quotes I favour upon reading the book.


Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

If someone asked you how to write your name, would you clench your teeth and spit out the letters one by one? If he lost his temper, would you lose yours as well? Or would you spell out the individual letters?

Remember — your responsibilities can be broken down into individual parts as well. Concentrate on those, and finish the job methodically — without getting stirred up or meeting anger with anger.

Focus on the job. Focus. It is everything we can do. Without focus how else are we going to accomplish anything worth pursuing? Trying to juggle many projects at once will produce mediocre results. Expend your limited attention only on a few tasks. Even better, single tasking will output excellent results.

Next, many times due to our ego, we may engage in detrimental behaviour. Sometimes unconsciously! Possessing high amount of ego does no one any good. The conversation goes nowhere and everyone gets held back because of our own ego. What good it is when you one-up the others and get nothing done at the end of the day? This not only hold back your progress, you are holding back others from progressing as well — this is a selfish notion and it’s called being counterproductive. Remember, getting shit done is what matters; getting your ego satisfied produces nothing.

Fighting fire with fire fuels fire. Same goes for reacting to an angry person with anger. From an innocuous question to a full fledged shouting match. No wonder the Gods are laughing at us! Marcus Aurelius wrote to remind himself to get the job done methodically despite being the Roman Emperor — he actually has absolute power to indulge in authoritative abuse.

I suggest the following:

  • Think about putting your ego aside and focus on the objectives;
  • Focus on getting the work completed with the least amount of friction and effort;
  • If you find that others are often the ones being counterproductive, check yourself, you may be the counterproductive one instead of others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *