2.13 Group Stuff Like a Pro
Productivity hack no.29 from '60 Ways to Hurray! by Ralph Varcoe.
In this book we touch on the switching cost of moving from one task to another and never really concentrating uninterrupted on the important tasks. Every time you allow yourself to be distracted you defocus, losing the thread of where you’ve been. It may seem that a quick and easy little task doesn’t take much thought so doesn’t really distract, but even an easy distraction takes your mind away from what you were engaged in.
Say you’re trying to write a part of your dissertation paper and are looking at some complex data that needs analysis. A quick thing then comes in that you can easily just say yes to via email, so you do. You try to get back to where your mind was with the complex data and at best it’ll take you a good few minutes to refocus and at worst it’ll take a lot longer.
Don’t give in to those distractions.
One way to ensure you stay distraction free is to group your tasks together into similar types of activity. Schedule your email time (2.11). Focus on social media for 15 minutes a day at a specific time (see section 3.6). Whatever groupings your tasks can be put into batch the similar types of tasks together.
Here’s a ridiculous example to illustrate the point. You are training for a triathlon and are in the process of writing a book. Which of these two scenarios sounds best to you?
- You start writing the next chapter, then you do your swimming warm up in the pool (careful not to splash your PC). Next you do some research for your book (careful not to get the pages wet). Then onto the bike for a 10k cycle. Now the library to check on a specific journal, followed by a run home, a quick review of the first draft of the book and, finally, a shower.
- Go to the Library to review the journal, research the book and finally begin the chapter. Next review the draft. On to the bike to the swimming pool, a few laps front crawl and backstroke, a quick ride home and then a short run, all topped off with a nice relaxing shower.
It’s obvious, and yes it’s a silly example, but it illustrates the point. If you batch tasks together which are similar in nature it’ll make you a whole heap more efficient. Get into the habit of grouping stuff like a pro.
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