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Context switching is killing your productivity (here's what to do about it)

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https://blog.rescuetime.com/context-switching/

blog.rescuetime.com

Context switching is killing your productivity (here's what to do about it)
Most people wear a lot of hats every day. Your title might be "senior developer" but you're also "pseudo-project manager," "part-time designer" and "chief of inbox relations." In our own research, we found that software developers spend just 41% of their time each day doing... well, software development.

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Switching between tasks

Most of us spend our days jumping between tasks and tools.

In fact, most people average only 3 minutes on any given task before switching to something else (and only 2 minutes on a di...

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Task switching and focus

Taking on additional tasks simultaneously can destroy up to 80% of your productive time:

  • Focusing on one task at a time = 100% of your productive time available.
  • Juggli...

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A schedule for sustained attention

It includes:
  • Large chunks of focused “flow” time for more demanding projects.
  • “Themed” days to reduce the need to recalibrate between different tasks.
  • Advanced planning so y...

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Sustained focus and rest

You can’t expect to focus non-stop on a project for days on end. But at the same time, you won’t see any real progress if you mindlessly jump from one task to another.

You need a work sche...

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Use an A/B Schedule

... to reduce FOMO and productivity guilt. This will also help you to stay in the same mental space without worrying about what needs to be done:

  • Go through your main tasks and divide th...

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Theme your days

... and use office hours to keep your focus throughout the week. One example is the  Free, Focus, Buffer system popularized by business coach Dan Sullivan:

  • Free days a...

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Maker and Manager schedules

Split your day between Maker and Manager time:

  • Managers cut up their day into one-hour intervals (or less) and bounce between tasks.
  • Makers need long stretches of u...

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Effectively switching your work schedule

  • Examine your current schedule (if you have one). Get real with where your time goes each day. 
  • Communicate with everyone about how your schedule is going to cha...

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Habits Are Not Blind Routines

Conventional wisdom states that strong habits improve our productivity. Daily habits done in an autopilot mode are not the only route to peak performance.

While our habits help us stick to g...

Revisit What You Do Daily

  • Some of our daily to-dos should not require a constant daily effort and could be optimized further. Look for such habits and if the daily effort is straining you, look for other innovative solutions.

  • Time and Energy are limited resources, and as we grow, our habits may become obsolete. We could use the same time and energy to explore new and better options.

  • It is a good idea to pay attention to where we spend our time and see if there is something we do daily but have outgrown long ago.

Consistency and Boredom

Being consistent can also lead to burnout and lack of growth, and to be creative and innovative, we sometimes need a break from our daily activity. When we stop and do something new, we start to be part of a creative process, instead of simply repeating the same thing every day.

The key is to not rely on a rigid consistency but to be resilient enough to withstand any breaks. Our resilient habits are usually the old ones and have some psychological rewards while involving some external accountability. 

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Flow is the state of mind

... where we are so immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity that we lose sense of space and time.

It is thought to be t...

Why it’s hard to achieve flow in your workplace

  • The processes, policies, and busy work gets in the way.
  • Most jobs don’t have a clear goal.
  • Feedback can be inadequate.
  • The pace of work has increased, and it’s hard for people to spend time thinking deeply.
  • Your skills aren’t well matched to the challenges you are allowed to pursue.
  • There’s a lack of control over interruptions or when and how you work.
  • The job doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone.

Take more risks

... to push your mind beyond its comfort zone. Flow happens when we get a bit out of our comfort zone. Too much, and you get anxious; Too little and you get bored.

You need to know your physical or emotional limitations and consciously push past them.

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Getting Things Done: the basics

  • Capture. Write down everything you need to do.
  • Clarify. Break down each task into an actionable next step. 
  • Organize. Move each of those actionable ta...

The 2-minute rule

If a task takes less than 2 minutes, then do it now.

If the effort to keep remembering a task is more than just getting it out of the way now, then do it.

Fixing small tasks

  • Fixing things is empowering. Our confidence increases or decreases based on our ability to make progress. 
  • Any progress builds momentum (and your mood): No matter how small the task is, crossing it off your to-do list gives you a boost of momentum and enhances your mood.
  • Small steps turn into habits: When a task is easy to do and quickly completed, it’s much easier to turn it into a habit.

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