When she was in high school, JetBlue executive Bonny Simi was asked to note 100 things she wanted to accomplish in life.
Instead, Simi jotted down five: go to a good college, work in television, become a pilot, compete in the Olympics, and build a log cabin.
She accomplished them all — except the log cabin.
“You can’t tell me I can’t do something,” Simi told Business Insider’s Benjamin Zhang.
Not everyone can live one lifetime and compete as a female luger in three Winter Olympics before changing careers (twice). Simi’s accomplishments don’t end there: she graduated from Stanford’s undergraduate program, and later went back for degrees in engineering and business; she worked as a sportscaster for ABC; and she was an airline pilot for 13 years.
Simi revealed one key hack that allowed her to accomplish everything she set her mind to: Stay committed to one thing at a time.
As part of Business Insider’s ongoing Productivity Project — where we ask revolutionary businesspeople their best hacks to get things done — Simi advises readers to stay focused on individual chores. If you’re “multitasking,” you can’t devote your best effort to any task.
“I know there’s people that say multitask, multitask,” she said in a recent interview with Business Insider. “I found that during conversations, it’s best not to multitask. Team meetings are more productive if you’re focused.”
For instance, a few years ago, Simi had still been working as vice president of talent at JetBlue as she transitioned to her current role, president of JetBlue Technology Ventures. During that time, she had to bounce between her two different roles. As a result, she would think about her second job during times she was at her first, and couldn’t keep up with the work.
Eventually, Simi realized if she stayed attentive to one project at a time, she could get more done. She turned off all her phone notifications — which she only uses for messages from her family — and put her phone away to be fully engaged in meetings with respective teams.
“It’s like, all right, during these hours, while I’m at work, I’m going to focus on my current job,” Simi said, adding that she devotes after-work hours to side projects or other responsibilities. “It’s dedicating that time to focus. Otherwise, you’re not productive.”
Now, she says her best pieces of productivity advice is to turn off your phone and stay attentive to one person or project at a time.
“Be present in the moment when you’re speaking to others,” she said. “Meetings could be shorter just by keeping all the technology away.”