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

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.
  • Juggling two tasks at a time = 40% of your productive time for each and 20% lost to context switching.
  • Juggling three tasks at a time = 20% of your productive time for each and 40% lost to context switching.

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

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

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

blog.rescuetime.com

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Key Ideas

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 digital tool before moving on).

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 you can prioritize meaningful work.
  • Realistic time set aside for admin, communication, and meetings.
  • Clear expectations for your teammates so they know when not to interrupt you.

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 schedule that pairs periods of sustained focus with rest in a way that’s purposeful and powerful.

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 them by either project, task, client, or topic. 
  • Divide those tasks into two categories based on their connection, an A and a B schedule.

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 are completely separated from business activities.
  • Focus days are spent on your most important work.
  • Buffer days are for planning, admin, and busywork.

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 uninterrupted time (usually at least half a day at a time).

To protect your focus, try to schedule at least a bit of Maker time into each day.

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 change and why it’s important.
  • Experiment to find what works for you. There’s no one perfect scheduling or time management strategy.
  • Focus on your health. 

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Create A Time-Blocking Template
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  • Give yourself space between blocks so that you can decompress and keep your energy levels high.

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