Modern workers spend a great deal of their time and attention switching between different tasks. Fielding questions, checking Trello, and answering emails are just some examples of context switching. Although switching between tasks is important, it can take a toll on your productivity. Here is everything that you need to know about it including how to reduce context switching.
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What Is Context Switching?
The American Psychological Association defines context switching as switching our mental control settings to perform different tasks. Even though you can easily switch between tasks, it can kill your productivity and prevent you from meeting deadlines.
How Does It Penalize Your Productivity?
Platform switching requires us to make sense of each task every time we switch back and forth. This is why it is important that you avoid it as much as possible. Otherwise, you would be unable to achieve the results that you are looking for.
Why Is The Awareness Of Context Switching Being Raised Recently?
Even though the cost of context switching had been analyzed as far back as 1927, the emergence of countless new apps is making organizations realize the need to raise awareness.
The research conducted by Arthur Jersild, a psychologist, sheds light on the effects and cost of the shift in efficiency and productivity. Switching between tasks places intense pressure on working memory as we have to shift between different goals and activate new rules for completing the task at hand.
When we switch tasks, our productive time is reduced. People are constantly bombarded with context switches at the modern workplace. They have to handle multiple projects and respond to endless emails while also attending Zoom meetings and pitching in new ideas.
The main problem is that you are likely to be thinking about the previous task before you switch to something different. Impaired focus is the switching penalty that you have to pay each time.
Moreover, the overhead involved in juggling multiple projects is exceptionally high. The effects of context switching became even more evident once the coronavirus pandemic broke out. It led to many people experiencing burnout.
How Do You Avoid Context Switching From Eating Up Your Productivity?
Fortunately, avoiding platform switching is easier than you think. The following tips will prove helpful.
- Schedule Focus and Thematic Blocks: Go through your calendar and schedule focus and thematic blocks to ensure that you complete similar tasks before taking on ones that are totally unrelated. Better planning can help you complete more tasks and optimize mental focus.
- Force Rank Priorities: If you are constantly switching between tasks, it means that you require clarity. Prioritization can help you improve focus and ensure that you complete the most pressing tasks before moving on to secondary responsibilities.
- Establish Atomic Habits: Atomic habits have a compound effect. Some incredible atomic habits that you can establish include finishing tasks before starting new ones, being mindful when switching tasks, decluttering digital apps, and taking breaks.
What Type Of Business Tools Help You Avoid Context Switching Across Your Company?
To improve your ability to get work done, you can use a number of business tools such as Optimizely, Doodle, Guru, Litmus, and Google Calendar. Each of these provides powerful features to help you put an end to context switching. You can rely on them to streamline everything and keep employees productive.