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Guest Post: Switching Tasks by Kate Jones

Comments (0) How to Win at Creative Adult

Some of you might have read this post How to Win at Creative Adult – The Two List Method, which was the first post in the How to Win at Creative Adult Series.

Today, I’d like you show you this lovely post from Kate Jones, owner of The Vagabond Tabby. Kate makes all natural, crap-free soaps as well as jewelry. Kate has her own spin on the two-list method, which I love.

Check it out!

-Sarah

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But why would I want to switch up jobs? I keep hearing that multitasking is bad.

Yep. And multitasking isn’t what I’m talking about here, either. I could quote you the statistics about how much time and productivity you lose while trying to multitask, but I’d have to go and look them up, and I’m trying to stick to my writing without getting distracted. (See what I did, there? )

I’m not talking about the ‘a few seconds here, a few seconds there’ kind of switching when you’re multitasking. I’m talking half an hour here, a few hours there. But doing different things.

All right, you’ve got me. So when will I be using this lovely new tool?

Say you’ve been working on your taxes for a while, and your brain is melting from all the numbers. Your shoulders hurt, too, so after you’ve put in a half an hour — or once you’ve gotten to a good place to stop for a while — you could get up and pack up a couple of orders, make a batch of soap, or do some photocopying. You’re giving both your shoulders and your brain a break, and still getting something done.

Or you’ve been banging away on an article that’s due tomorrow. You’re not really in the mood for it, but it’s got to be done, and you’re getting it done. Once you’ve got a first draft, you could switch to something you really enjoy as a reward, before digging back into the second draft.

You’ve been entering the month’s receipts into whatever you use to keep track of your finances. It’s brain-meltingly boring, but like the article above, it’s got to be done. Too long at one shot and all the numbers start looking the same, though, and you’re tired of being stuck in your office all alone. Might be time to change to something else to shake loose some brain cells for a bit — go check in with your partner about that ebook you’re collaborating on.

Seeing some similarities in these examples? There’s a reason. One way or another, what you’ve been doing is starting to be a problem, and a problem that can be solved by doing something else for a while.

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What kind of something else, though?

Generally, you’re going to be moving from one class of task to another. There are a couple of ways this can get broken down:

* Physical vs. mental tasks.
* Solo vs. team tasks.
* Number vs. word tasks.
* Tasks you like vs. tasks you hate.

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There are many more possible divisions, but these will do for a start. And yes, there’s a lot of overlap between types of tasks here. One task can fall into a lot of categories, and those categories can even change partway through.

Writing an article is a mental task, not a physical one; and (usually) a word task, not a number one. But it could be either solo or team, depending on the situation, and it can go from something you hate doing to something you’re really into and back several times while you’re working on it.

Packing things up to ship can be a number and word task, both physical and mental (especially if you’re figuring out shipping costs), and solo or team, depending on the specifics. But it’s a good change from a mental-numbers-solo task like doing your taxes, or a physical-team task like rearranging everyone’s desks.

Long story short, if you’ve got a task that’s becoming a problem, identify where the problem is, and then find a task to work on for a while that avoids what’s causing the problem.

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So this is the key?

Only not always. Sometimes switching isn’t the way to go. If you’re in the flow, if what you’re doing is just coming out like it’s the only thing in the world and it’s just beautiful, don’t change to doing something else just because you feel like you’re ‘supposed’ to!

If you remember something else you need to do, don’t switch over to that; you’ll lose your flow. Just write it down somewhere so you’ll remember, and keep on with what you were doing. Once you’ve written down the task you’d forgotten, you can forget about it again — after all, there it is in plain words to remind you later.

Be careful that you’re not changing tasks too often. You’ll lose a little time (and brain) every time you switch, so the less often, the better off you are.

And if someone interrupts you with a question, or, worse yet, with a ‘do right now’ task…that’s more sticky, depending on who they are and how much trouble you’ll get into if you blow them off. But it might be a good idea to get folks into the habit of (if nothing else) waiting a minute or two until you get to a good stopping place. It’s rare that whatever they’ve brought to you to deal with will go sour for waiting five minutes.

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What do you think of Kate’s technique? Could this workflow improve your productivity? Post in the comment section below!

***Would you like to write a guest post? I’m currently looking for guess post dealing with any of these topics (creative adults post list). Please contact me at sarahdahlinger@gmail.com for more info***

And be sure to check out Kate’s site!

logo for the Vagabond Tabby stuff for your skin crap free guaranteed


If you liked this post, you might like these others.

How to Win at Creative Adult – The Two List Method

How to Win at Creative Adult – Mindfulness and Fighting Stress

How to Win at Creative Adult – Exercise

How to Win at Creative Adult – Drawing at Zoos and Aquariums

How to Win at Creative Adult – Dealing with Frustration and Fear

How to Win at Creative Adult – Focus

How to Win at Creative Adult – Finding Inspiration

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