How This Ancient Japanese Technique Doubled My Daily Productivity

Recently I’ve been reading the book “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. Inside, he mentions an ancient Japanese technique called Ichigyo-Zammai.

Essentially, this translates to One Practice Concentration.

In Zen practice, this is to focus on one task at a time with everything you’ve got.

Not some half-assed focus either, like washing the dishes, while also thinking of what you have to do today. Focus and be present on the task you are doing.

Now, I’ll be honest, it’s incredibly hard to do. Especially when first trying it out.

With our phones and other distractions, our minds have become trained to jump around like monkeys in a cage with zero focus.

I first started practicing ichigyo zammai throughout my day with simple tasks like brushing my teeth or washing the dishes. Instead of just brushing my teeth while thinking about emails I had to answer, I fully focused on brushing my teeth only.

Increased Productivity

I’ve mentioned before how Multitasking is a terrible way to be productive. Ichigyo Zammai takes the singularity of focus to a whole new level.

As a business owner, I wanted to see if this would increase my productivity in my daily work.

I started answering emails without jumping to another tab or window in my browser. Closed all my open tabs, with only one tab open at a time. Stopped browsing Instagram while on the phone.

Basically, it eliminated all distractions to focus on one thing at a time – one practice concentration.

I am writing this post now with all my focus. I’ve muted my phone and minimized all my other browser tabs so that I can be 100% focused on just writing.

Almost immediately in practicing this Japanese technique daily, I’ve noticed a massive increase in productivity. I started crushing to-do lists like the Incredible Hulk on steroids.


By doing less, I was actually doing more. Go figure.

Put all of your brainpower into one task at a time, and watch what happens.

Increased Happiness

There was also an unexpected benefit of practicing ichigyo zammai.

My overall happiness skyrocketed!

If I was drinking coffee, I enjoyed every sip. If I was eating, I enjoyed every bite. I didn’t just plow my food down and go on with my day.

If I was speaking to someone, I gave them my full attention.

By being focused in the moment, I felt a huge sense of awareness and enjoyment in even the smallest tasks. My relationships also improved.

Ways to Try Ichigyo Zammai

  • Start with small simple tasks
  • Put 100% of your focus and effort into simple things you’d normally do on auto-pilot like brushing your teeth or cooking a meal today.
  • Crush your to-do lists by focusing on each item one at a time with full undistracted focus.
  • Give others your full attention when speaking, without thinking about other stuff you have to do.
  • Put away your phone or put it on do not disturb when doing an important task today so that you’re not tempted to look at the notifications.

These are just a few ideas. Try it out and see for yourself if it helps increase your productivity and improve your overall happiness.

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels