Context switching is a major productivity killer. The science is clear that multitasking slows you down. Here’s how to avoid it.
Human brains are wired to work on one thing at a time. While many people think they are good multitaskers, science clearly shows humans overestimate our ability to multitask. This perception doesn’t correlate with our actual ability.
The fact is context switching is a major productivity killer. Dr. Gloria Mark found that it takes people an average of 25 minutes to return to their original task after an interruption. And worse yet, office workers average a distraction every 11 minutes.
So, what’s a knowledge worker to do? The answer lies in aggregating everything you need to do in a single system and using that to plan and prioritize your time better.
The first step in reducing context switching and multitasking is to have a system that tracks all your to-do items. This should be where you capture every task. Often a new idea pops into our head, or a colleague asks us to do something on Slack, and we drop everything to work on that. Instead, have a place to put those tasks, along with everything else you need to do, and get back to work on the task at hand.
The next step is planning out your days and even the week ahead.
There are a few benefits to planning out your week ahead. The first is to reduce your stress levels by planning when you are going to your priorities, rather than having a long, seemingly unmanageable backlog. Second, it lets you set your priorities ahead of time, rather than allowing notifications, Slack messages, and emails to decide what you will do.
Spend each morning timeblocking the tasks you want to work on and when. By doing so, you force yourself to think about how much time each will take. Then you can better judge what’s on your plate. Timeblocking also helps you stay focused on one thing at a time by holding you accountable for what you put in your calendar. Finally, timeblocking helps you to avoid spending too much time on tasks.
Taskable is built to help you stay focused and reduce context switching.
First, Taskable integrates with project managers and communication tools like Slack and Gmail. This means tasks being assigned to you in places like Trello, Jira, GitHub, and Asana automatically sync to Taskable. And we make it easy to push important emails and Slack messages into your Taskable inbox.
Second, use our weekly planning features to move items from your backlog into a plan for when you’ll work on them.
Finally, our timeblocking feature makes adding tasks to your calendar as simple as dragging and dropping.
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