How do you switch gears during the day?

animalstyle

BuSo Pro
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
932
Likes
831
Degree
3
When you have to switch between projects, roles or even jobs, how do you keep a clear and focused mind as you switch?

I find that I am very happy and very productive as long as my mind is clear. When I get too many extra things going on I get foggy and can't think straight. My life always has and currently continues to be a mixture of different work. I can be in design mode for 2 hours, switch to A/B testing mode for an hour and later be writing content - jumping around a ton. I have a very tough time keeping my head from feeling like someone blended my thoughts to where I can barely think straight.

I've tried mediating and taking breaks to walk. This seems to help, but sometimes it doesn't. Some days I feel like I walk through the fog with no way to get un-clouded except for sleeping all night.
 

Ryuzaki

女性以上のお金
Staff member
BuSo Pro
Digital Strategist
Joined
Sep 3, 2014
Messages
3,464
Likes
6,362
Degree
7
For me, I NEED to switch tasks every 30 mins to an hour when its measley peasley work that has to get done. If it's too boring, I have to switch or I end up goofing off online instead. When it's really interesting stuff, like all the .htaccess work I'm doing right now, I happen to look up and 3 hours went by and I'm still hungry for more.

I think part of it is the tasks you're doing shouldn't have switching forced on them if you can avoid it. The other part is that some people's brains and attention spans and ability to juggle many balls and mind states at once are just different.

It's not a good or bad, better or worse thing. In your case, someone who's not lazy and undisciplined, it's figuring out what is appropriate for you, and instead of forming yourself around that, you form those tasks around you and your style.

A god doesn't pop into his universe and mold himself to it. He creates his universe and molds it to his preferences and likings.
 

Potatoe

BuSo Pro
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
422
Likes
589
Degree
2
+1 for Brain.fm. I picked up a lifetime membership when it was on appsumo a while ago, but couldn't see myself paying monthly for it. For whatever reason, it helps me stay on task while the song is playing. You don't need to subscribe to that tho, you can just as easily toss on any of the bajillion "focus" tracks on Youtube. Brain.fm puts it in a nice package, but at the end of the day it's still just a play button and a song. It works for me the same way that pomodoros work, because I only need discipline for 25-30 minutes at a time rather than trying to stay focused the entire day. Breaking it down like that helps a lot.

So pop on a brain.fm track (which I treat as an audio pomodoro), bang out a task, repeat. After 2-3 hours have passed, I've gotten all my big stuff done for the day then I'll move on to some easier work, I'll allow myself to get a bit distracted, and it's a good feeling because the heaviest stuff for the day is done and behind me.
 

Kevin

Beast
Joined
Dec 12, 2014
Messages
372
Likes
577
Degree
2
So the simple way to do this is to plan your day the day before and separate out the tasks and projects that fit into different mental modes. For me, I wake up at 7:30, do a 30 minute morning routine, and then from 8-11am I have all notifications, chats, etc. off and am working on deeper work that requires long chunks of uninterrupted time. This could be diving deep into the funnel of my company, evaluating a list of growth strategies, picking one, fleshing out the experiment, and running it, or a host of other high value tasks that suffer heavily if there are any interruptions.

Then I hit the gym for an hour or so, go straight into lunch (my first meal of the day), spend 30 minutes or so reading, and then go into my shorter, lower-value-but-must-be-done tasks like phone calls, responding to emails, etc.

That gets me to 2pm. I change venues (usually to the awesome library down the street, get a private room) and do another 3 hours of deeper work that is either a followup on the work I'd done in the morning, or a different project that requires the same level of depth.

After that, I hang it up and work on other things - art, social, family, etc. I don't put in hours just because they exist.
 

animalstyle

BuSo Pro
Joined
Mar 28, 2015
Messages
932
Likes
831
Degree
3
Thanks Kevin, your example is actually really helpful and I could use to listen to your last sentence...
 

Kevin

Beast
Joined
Dec 12, 2014
Messages
372
Likes
577
Degree
2
@animalstyle I used to think that grinding all of the time was admirable, respectable, and the only way to get things done in life. It's just not true for me, and for most people - even if they have ambitious goals in life. There are plenty of examples to the contrary, but I notice my output increasing when I decrease raw hours inputted but increase overall quality of those hours. And what allows me to increase quality of those hours are hours spent in creative work, play, and family / friend time.
 

eliquid

SERPWoo
Digital Strategist
Joined
Nov 26, 2014
Messages
634
Likes
1,497
Degree
3
I'm a little different.

I hate switching tasks, there is a lot of waste in switching gears constantly every day. Yet, it is unavoidable at times.

Here is what I do that almost every productivity person never talks about.. theme your days.

This can be applied to weeks, months and also years.​

For example, today is Monday. My Monday is ( sadly ) all about catch up from the week before. What does that mean to me:
  • I'm pretty much reviewing old emails and responding back
  • Tieing up loose ends in tasks ( drop stuff in mail, get back with CPA, code up that missing feature )
For some people, that still might be too much switching gears. Even in my example, I could be tieing up loose ends from several projects at once or even coding loose ends while trying to plan out a PPC budget. If that's too high level still, you can still theme down.

For example, if I wanted to theme down still, I could just make Monday's be just for financials. Meaning my tasks largely today ( 80 % ) are to do the books, pay bills, plan out budgets, etc.

Still too high? How about making Monday's only for Client #3 and all their tasks?

Also, your theme can change at will to fit you. Just because you planned it or put it on paper, doesn't mean you can't change it.

Also, it doesn't have to be just that theme all day. It could just be your theme is that from 6am until 10am you are working on Client #3 projects and then from 11am to 3pm you are doing financials. Themeing out your workday is as flexible as you need it to be.

Keep breaking it down until it fits you....

Like @Ryuzaki said:
A god doesn't pop into his universe and mold himself to it. He creates his universe and molds it to his preferences and likings.

Sometimes there is no perfect answer

Sorry man. Sometimes life is messy and you wont find something that works 100% all the time. Like today, Im having to get things ready so I can be offline mostly Tuesday and Wednesday. This requires a lot of "Switching Gears".

Not only do I need to pack and get all my documents together, but I need to still do and catch up on things Im behind on. I also need to do things so when I am back Thursday, I am not overwhelmed with the backup from being off Tuesday and Wednesday.

I can't theme my way out of this. Also, I cant 80/20, timebox, pomodoro, or listen to music or take a walk to bust through it.

Remember, you're not a robot and days will come that no method will really help you. It's ok and fine that it happens... just breathe.​