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RF: Stalling out from shifting gears | Pamdemonium
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RF: Stalling out from shifting gears

June 27, 2010

Wow. I feel so much better. Random Fact came across a link to a Wall Street Journal article from 2003 on multitasking. I remember (I think) when this study came out. Headlines reported multitasking created holes in our brains.

Seven years later, this pearl from the story gives me comfort: “The time lost switching among tasks increases with the complexity of the tasks.”

Intuitively, I think I knew this. In practice, I ping-pong between multiple projects with different writing styles and target audiences. Short (600 words or less) ditties designed to engage and/or amuse. Medium (1,000-2,500 words) pieces that need reporting and analysis. Long-form assignments (30-40 pages) that are research-driven. The topics are all over the place, much like Pamdemonium. Progress measured in inches as I juggle the line-up and try to get something done on something.

My new plan (I always have new plans) is to attempt to focus on one project in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening and only “shift” if outside circumstances demand it — a phone call returned, a client crisis, another natural disaster. If I can’t devote a full morning or afternoon to Project A, the backup plan (I always have backup plans) is a two-hour minimum.

Wish me luck. Random Fact points to this citation in the WSJ article to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: “People who multitask are actually less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time.” Seven years ago I scoffed at this. After three years of working from home, I am ready to embrace it.

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{ 4 comments }

KR June 28, 2010 at 6:20 am

wait-you have a plan?

admin July 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Belatedly, dude, you well know I have plans within plans within plans. And a few to spare.

LeeAnn June 28, 2010 at 6:54 am

I like plans, I need a new plan or two…

I’ve found at work that especially if I’m using different programs or internal sites it makes sense to just finish what I am doing instead of bouncing from one project to the next. It takes time to go in and out of programs so if I just finish (especially smaller/quicker tasks) when I start them it helps.

My favorite saying is “work smarter not harder” :-)

QUestion if multi-tasking creates holes in our brains then is that where those forgotten thoughts (the what did I come in here for?) are sucked into?

Sherry June 28, 2010 at 7:01 am

I need a plan. Can I borrow one of yours?

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