Do you know the No. 1 cause of poor productivity? It’s switching costs, or the productivity reduction experienced every time you switch from one activity to another. The American Psychological Association explains, “Although switching costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks.”
Switching costs, or multitasking, can be fatal to your workflow, particularly as we’re all tasked with improving our workflow and productivity outcomes. Let’s discuss how to take switching costs out of your daily productivity budget:
Tackle Big Projects First
Have you ever crossed off more than 60% of your daily work tasks hours before clocking out? Feels pretty great. However, doing little tasks to simply get through your to-do list may be a productivity fail. Instead, hack away at those big projects first. It would seem that this is counterintuitive, but working on those big tasks while your mind is fresh, and you are full of energy, makes for powerful work.
I start working on it and figure the details out as I go. Many people spend a lot of time planning how to tackle a big project before jumping in, but they’re planning with limited information,” Bill Boebel, CEO of Pingboard, says.
Pencil in a few hours on your digital calendar to work on that big project, and then switch to small tasks. The long-term benefits you will achieve with this will be addictive.
Eliminate Mobile Emails
How often do you check your emails on your smartphone? The answer for most is constantly, since email dings continue to roll in due to the push setting on your phone. This is a serious productivity killer. To really stay laser-focused on your tasks, eliminate those email dings altogether. Simply switch your email notifications to off. Turning off your phone or deleting your email app aren’t bad ideas for productivity either.