Is multitasking a counter-productive wicked myth, or is it a fair time-management technique? We claim that multitasking is possible, but it needs a proper setup and a boost from a digital workplace. Let's take a close look at multitasking origin and types.
👩🎨 DaVinci Mode
Multitasking is natural. You can walk while talking on the cell phone, can't you? It would be counterproductive if you would stop walking to pick up the phone. This is an example of DaVinci multitasking - just like driving while listening to the radio, reading with a cup of coffee, etc. DaVinci mode is doing different things literally at the same time. It is possible and natural, but there is a condition - the tasks should be processed by different areas of the brain. So when deliberately selecting this mode for work optimization, make sure that the two tasks will not try to allocate the same brain area.
🔫 Revolver Mode
If several tasks require the same brain activity type, DaVinci mode is unavailable for most people. This time, you can go with Revolver mode. Let’s say you have a pool of tasks with comparable priority and type. Note that the size of this pool depends on your natural features, concentration type, and style. Some are most efficient with six tasks, while others best go with two or three. The most statistically possible is four to five. Start with the first task. If it does not get solved before you get tired of it, stop where you are, and switch to the next one. If you have comfortable criteria of task switch and a smart system of context loading, this is an efficient approach. Issues appear if the task pool is too large, so you can’t grab the context because the time to load it is comparable to the time dedicated to the progress. If the pool is too small, your brain does not refresh between the iterations, and the progress slows down. Both situations may cause procrastination and avoidance behavior, so be sure to adjust the parameters.
🐟 Depth Shift
Depth Shift is a brilliant brain ability for complex or creative tasks that do not have standardized approaches or obvious solutions within known practices. At first, you think of it actively - concentrate for some time struggling to find a solution or at least understand the right direction. Then, if you fail and need to switch to “normal” activities, this problem descends to a depth of your cognitive activity, it runs in the background. It does not intervene with everyday life, but when you are between normal activities, you can hear this problem deep inside, almost on the edge of your subconscious. At times you switch to thinking actively about it, and you can suddenly catch a new idea. How so? That’s because your brain has been working on the solution all the time. Eventually, you find the solution or a direction without spending much time on the problem directly.
🕹 The Switch Challenge
As you can see, the most risky mode from the standpoint of focus drop and procrastination is the revolver mode. Ironically, it’s usually most needed at work. That’s because we all have to adjust to other people’s schedules, switch between projects, and all have much more than one ticket “in progress”. If time loss and discomfort levels during context switch are unacceptably high, it’s time to call a friend - a smart digital tool. When we are switching contexts, we crave to answer the following questions:
What is the goal of this task
Where did I stop last time?
Where is the data and what is the actual state?
What happened while I was out of the task?
What is my next step or am I blocked?
Who do I need to reach out to?
Did the priority or timeline change?
What is the progress of other folks working with me on this matter?
… And there can be more 🤯. Now imagine that the task description is in the Corporate Portal, work results are in a Word document, data is in some shared smart sheets, you have to reach out to every person within the task and ask about their progress, and some of the discussions are in email, others in Slack and something is in your WhatsApp, also you had had an in-person discussion and somebody promised to send a follow-up. Finally, there is a comment from your boss left yesterday, that the task is a top priority now. This is a nightmare and probably you would spend a couple of hours just pulling things together, then you’ll need to analyze and finally get to work on it, but you’re already exhausted, and the work day is over.
With a smart digital workplace allowing collaboration, easy access to data, ability to assign DRIs, see timelines, and evaluate the current state, context switch can become a lightning-fast and comfortable action. We believe that the human brain has almost unlimited power, especially when boosted with appropriate tools.