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personal interests

Becoming a better multitasker

some excerpt

is this clickbait? Let’s say it is for the sake of me feeling important in a way. But the reality is that more of us need to ‘switch contexts’ more times a day than a lightbulb in its lifetime, we might as well get better at it!

Tip 1: Don’t Switch Contexts (often)

The less you can switch contexts, the better. Try to look at this from a structured approach. Can you:

  1. Change the projects you work on (private or professional), so you can work on them on specific days to a specific time(slots) or not at all? Please do it.
  2. Put your projects you don’t must do on the shelf. All, including those coding courses you wanted to take and the domains you bought for your next best-in-class app.
  3. Projects that can be delegated, need input from others, need dedicated thinking time? Act on that instinct. Delegate, ask for help, and schedule follow-ups.
  4. Organise your agenda, so you have limited appointment times? A ‘meeting less’ day? Then do it.

Tip 2: If You Have To, Contextualise.

For the sake of the example, this is what I like (and my brain works well with)

  1. I have a lot of project meetings strictly in German. Even if I could request we do them in English, I will happily decline. My brain attaches a context, a set of knowledge and a routine of working and talking to that language.
  2. My work as team lead and in our organisation usually is in English. Great, there is no ‘compartment’ in my head that creates paths between my projects and my work environment (even though it sometimes must)
  3. My “home” surroundings currently are in Dutch due to covid. My partner speaks Dutch (and Frysian) — we have our context there.

Tip 3: Change Contexts More.

If you don’t speak those languages or are not able to contextualise, try it in a different way. Here are a few examples:

  1. Always open your mailbox and respond to emails standing up (a walking setup would be even better). This automatically creates a more active approach, limits the size of your response and hopefully turns into a ‘getting things done’ posture more.
  2. go outside for the next call with your manager or team members. Your brain will feel better, and you’ll enjoy the perspective of the next meeting (=being outside) more, probably leading to a better outcome entirely.
  3. Enjoy meetings you know you have less input on from the couch, watch a webinar from a lazy chair or listen to a podcast in the kitchen or the car.
  4. Use a different device to do specific tasks. The iPad is the best mail reader and responder simply because it distracts less. My car is my best podcast device, followed by cooking using a decent set of earplugs not to bother my better half.

To Conclude

That you made it this far is an outstanding achievement! Again, multitasking isn’t what we’re made for — we’re much better off sticking to one box — but these tips might help.

Remember that you might feel powerful or have a holy sh•t moment trying these tips. The same goes for reading GTD or trying Pomodoro. The long-term effect is the opposite, though, you’ll find yourself pulling in even more tasks and adding things to your stack.

If you’re looking for the conclusion, the TLDR, this is my mega tip:

Say no. More often/clearly/repeatedly than you do now.

Extra reading/inspiration:

  1. https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/5-things-smartest-people-do-that-make-them-super-productive-without-destroying-their-health.html
  2. https://www.primermagazine.com/2023/live/5-common-habits-that-kill-your-drive-motivation-and-energy

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