How to Avoid the Cost of Task Switching

We know task switching comes with a pretty heavy burden, one that we’re all too familiar with and could universally use less of – STRESS.

So, exactly how do we help ourselves minimize task switching in a world where information overload is a daily occurrence? Through countless conversations with friends and coworkers, innumerable productivity-minded websites and articles, and our own personal experiences, we’ve found these tips and tricks to be helpful.

  1. Minimize Email

This may feel like a near impossibility for many out there, but hear us out. We’re not advocating for absolute cessation of responding to emails, but rather that you do it in a more tactful way. Try quitting out of Outlook or Gmail and turning off notifications while you work in 45 minute increments. After those 45 minutes are up, review your inbox to ensure no particularly pressing emails have come in, and if there is nothing that needs your immediate attention, return to work. Then, set three times per day to respond to those previously reviewed emails – we like morning, mid-afternoon, and before you close up shop for the day.

  1. Schedule Blocks of Time For Work (And Play)

Remember those 45 minute blocks we talked about above? Not only are they particularly useful for an email-less work sesh, we find that the 45 minute mark is the perfect period of time to bang out some seriously focused work. Constructing parameters on the amount of time dedicated to a specific portion of a project helps you relax into your work with your subconscious knowing you won’t be demanding this kind of brain power all day. We think you’ll find the temptation to distract yourself decreasing markedly after implementing this rule.

  1. Be Organized

Task switching is insidious and usually opportunistic – it often sneaks in when you are somehow transitioning. Minimizing these opportunities for distractedness are therefore of the utmost importance. Searching through multiple email threads, Dropbox folders, and God-knows-what-else in the hopes of finding that *one* file you need is not conducive to a staying on task. Find ways and use tools that help keep you as organized as possible.