TII #012: Context Switching Kills Your Productivity
Context switching kills your productivity and diminishes your personal life. Here is what you can do against it.
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Context switching is something that we all experience in our daily lives. Whether it's at work, school, or in our personal lives, we often find ourselves switching between tasks or activities.
However, context switching can have negative effects on our productivity, mental health, and overall well-being.
Personally, I have noticed that context switching can make it difficult for me to complete tasks efficiently and effectively.
For example, when I'm working on a project, and I receive an email notification, it can be challenging to resist the urge to check my email and respond to the message. This interruption can cause me to lose focus, and it takes time to get back into the flow of the task I was working on before the interruption.
I have also noticed that context switching can have negative impacts on my personal life.
When I'm spending time with my partner, friends or engaging in leisure activities, it can be challenging to fully engage in the present moment if I'm constantly switching my attention between different tasks like checking Twitter.
Here are three things I do to minimize context switching:
1) Priorize tasks
This one may be obvious to many, but it’s probably the most important one: Prioritization.
Make sure to decide on what you want to do ahead of doing it. Constantly jumping between one task to another shows that you haven’t decided which one is “more important” and “more urgent”.
What works best for me is to decide on Sundays what I will do during the coming week and every evening I pick out the three most important tasks for the next day, with one being the number one priority to complete.
I find this keeps it simple and manageable in terms of time invested because I can do it fairly quickly.
If you need help deciding what to do first, I can highly recommend the “Eisenhower Method” (sometimes called Eisenhower Matrix).
Time boxing is another technique I find highly beneficial to boost my productivity.
Put simply: you decide on certain time frames for the day and work on specific tasks in these time frames.
For example: 8:00 AM - 11:30 AM: Deep work session to complete a landing page
This should correlate with your priority list created on the day before.
Making a decision to work on a specific task exclusively primes you to do this and nothing else.
Pro tip: Do not plan out your whole day from start to finish. You can do this, but I find it’s better to block times for specific tasks and activities that absolutely must get done, rather than planning exactly when and where to have lunch.
I have tried this and found it took me too much time. The ROI from just deciding on 4-7 hours for the next day was much higher for me.
Leave room for flexibility.
3) Minimize distractions
This is a no brainer.
Remove all distractions you can for the time boxed periods.
If you planned a time box to finish your landing page, put your phone into another room to remove the temptation to look at social media. You most likely also don’t need open tabs for Facebook, the YouTube meme videos and Twitter. You can use Supatabs to close them into a session to be easily opened later.
If you want to spend quality time with your partner, friends and family don’t take your laptop and work while talking to them.
This one is pretty obvious and straight forward, but not always easy to do.
All these techniques are very simple in theory, but take discipline to execute on.
If you still get distracted after removing some distractions, keep removing what distracts you.
If time-boxing and prioritization the way I described it is difficult for you, make the process your own.
Experiment. Change timeframes, days etc. Make the process your own.
Additionally, I have found that taking breaks and practicing mindfulness can help me to resist the urge to switch between tasks.
By taking short breaks between tasks, I can clear my mind and refocus my attention, reducing the likelihood of context switching. Practicing mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness techniques can also help to improve focus and concentration, making it easier to resist the urge to switch between tasks.
I hope this article was helpful