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Great article on multitasking or task switching


LongHaul
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Seriously though, I'd probably die if I had to focus on single task.

 

Sometimes single tasking works great. You're in the zone, you write something post/email/program concentrating just on it. Or you read something concentrating just on it.

 

Sometimes single tasking sucks:

1. There are real interruptions in work. I.e. you do compile your program, you do run tests. You can pretend that this is not interruption, but it is. Your choice is either task switch or to meditate until you can continue. Maybe the solution is to meditate. But it's still a real interruption and real task switch. (Yeah, you can try to get better tools and environment to avoid these as much as possible.

2. Sometimes things just need time to settle. This happens quite a bit to me. You read something, you write a reply and then half hour later you have much better reply, better arguments, better understanding etc. Or you are trying to do something and it's not working. But next day you have new ideas how to do it, new insights, etc. If you push for single tasking, you lose all of these. So task switching is pretty much key solution here. Unless you're genius and you have best response to everything immediately.

3. Poor cousin of 2: sometimes you don't get into the zone and work is just not happening. Switch might help. The danger corollary though: you can procrastinate by persuading yourself that work is not happening. So careful here.

4. Task switching because one task is boring-but-you-have-to-participate. Yeah, I know that teleconference example from the article. Yeah, you have to decide if you can just skip the boring meeting instead of task switching. Sometimes you can't. Then you have to decide whether you're better off trying to follow all the boring stuff in it, or task switch. Yeah, this is risky as the example suggests. And, yeah, you're not gonna get 100% from either of tasks that you do in such case. This one is the most dicey out the four. Tread carefully.

 

<Tests just finished, switching back to my other work>

 

8)

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