Any GTD Approach to Make "Task Switching" Easier

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Ehab Mohsen, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. Ehab Mohsen

    Ehab Mohsen Registered

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    I've been using GTD for years, but can't find literature on helping with "task switching".

    i find it's mentally "painful" and energy draining to switch gears between a number of projects throughout the day. When you add up how much time i need to spend on each project in a day (e.g., 1-2 hours across, say, 3-4 projects), time-wise it's actually quite reasonable (~8 hours). But it's so hard for me to switch gears. I either avoid switching, or stall, or take a long break to get back in the zone. Worth pointing out that these are 'thinking' projects, typically writing and authoring presentation material.

    Since one of the GTD principles is to finding "tricks" to help you .. anybody know of any way to help with this? And any good literature on the subject? The only thing I can find is Wikipedia and it's quite dry.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    First, I think this is just normal how it is. I heard a business owner who owns two small operations. He said that he always spends the whole day on either one or the other operation. Never both. For the reasons you stated in the OP.

    Now, having said all that, I found it gets a little better if you work more often on a project. What I mean is, it is easier to switch between say, four projects, during the day, if you have worked on everyone of them in the last few days also.
     
  3. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    If there's any possible way that you could work on these projects in larger blocks--say, Project 1 all day on Monday, 2 all day on Tuesday, etc.--I would strongly suggest that you do so. There are ample studies that point to this being far more efficient.
     
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  4. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    My solution:
    1. Work in Projects instead of GTD Contexts if you can. For me it is easier to switch GTD contexts than Projects.
    2. Group similar tasks (batch processing).
     
  5. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    So all the next actions you are doing are in the same context?

    If so then I'd agree that sticking to one project for longer is a good idea.

    OTOH if you are confusing contexts and projects then I'd try being more rigid in sticking in one context for a long time. However you can easily stay with a project until the next action is no longer in that context. So if a project has 8-10 actions all in the same context then stick with those and run down the project tree while you are in that context. When you reach the end of the actions in that context for that project only then switch to another project whose next action is in the same context.

    I've never had a problem switching between projects as long as the actions are in the same context but the mental cost to switch contexts is very high for me.

    So I can function quite well doing say, all my Scrivener writing tasks even though the individual tasks may cross a bunch of different projects but I have a very hard time switching between Scrivener and Libre Office so I try to do one set or the other then switch. However I also find that I may have 5-6 actions lined up in a single project that are all in the same context and it's helpful to stay with that project working all those actions before I switch project focus.
     
  6. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I'm the opposite--I can quite easily switch contexts (if it's for the same project), but switching projects costs me a lot of time as my mind "resets."

    I'm curious as to what this means.
     
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  7. Penny

    Penny Registered

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    Same here! I am also more efficient and do a better quality job for certain actions when I've been focusing on one specific project for longer (several hours) than when I switch from one project to the other.

    In fact, when I started implementing GTD, having the lists sorted out by context rather than project was one of the things I resisted at first. I soon understood their value and do keep them in context - also more useful to work by context for some specific actions. However, when planning for the day, for the "larger chunks" I typically focus more on project than context.
     
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  8. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    No F-ing clue but it is interesting. So, out of curiosity have you done any personality testing?

    FWIW I'm a strong INTJ and also have some interesting scores in the Cognitive Results Survey that GTD offered a while ago with 85% listener (why I can't tolerate excess noise in my environment) 52% mover, 45% observer, 85% Reader and 45% Talker.

    And in other personality testing I'm a very high Questioner on Rubin's testing.

    I wonder if there is any correlation between my results and how I deal with context switching vs other people with other personality traits?
     
  9. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I recall a story about a full day of testing of very bright people at Bell Labs in the 60’s. After lunch, the person administering the tests asked if there were any questions, expecting none. Someone raised a hand and asked "Do you want us to use the same personalities in the afternoon that we used in the morning?"
     
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  10. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I seem to remember that I once tested as INFJ, and another time as something else that I can't remember.

    I actually need noise in my environment. :)

    Now I'm curious to try these other tests.
     

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