Multitasking for Productivity

“Don’t multitask or context switch to maximise your productivity” — fine conventional knowledge that I no longer believe applies to myself.

I have 3 monitors and frequently fill all of them with many windows, switching between various tasks and sometimes different client projects. No task, even “flow tasks” like programming, never go for more than 20 mins before I switch. Sometimes just for a few minutes of mental downtime.

Troy Hunt has written “I multithread and task-switch frequently” and goes on to say “I’m fully conscious that this way of working isn’t for everyone, but I find it very effective for me.”

At the start of each day, I often feel nervous about not being able to get everything done. And by the end of the day, often feel like an imposter having ‘wasted time’ when I should have been ‘working’. 

And yet, my wife has consistently told me that my daily output and productivity is higher than anyone else she knows. That also includes sharing the cooking and family duties 50% alongside my professional work.

Chris Ferdinandi says “Folks with ADHD are often incredibly creative. You’ll have more ideas in a year than most people can implement in a lifetime. And hyperfocus? That can give you (incredibly unpredictable) superhuman productivity.”

I don’t have ADHD (I think) but I have spent too long beating myself up for not being able to focus on a single task at a time. Now I plan to stop aspiring to “conventional wisdom” and just do more of what works for me — even if that is multitasking and context switching. To all the managers and colleagues who have accepted my distinct way of working, THANK YOU.


Frank Ray

Frank Ray & Associates is a software engineering consultancy that builds high quality software for businesses.

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