During a task, our main prerogative is to stay focused on what’s in front of us. When we are faced with constant distractions or regular task switching, this impedes our ability to be productive and concentrate on getting a task done most efficiently. Our brains cannot adequately complete one task if it is being distracted by so many others. But in a world of constant context switching and the demands to multitask, how do we maintain good levels of productivity? Read on to find out.

What is Context Switching?

Context switching is described as multiple processes running from the same processing unit. This is seemingly very simple for our technology to do, and there’s no thinking twice for a computer system. However, when it comes to our human brains, and human context switching we cannot easily handle switching from one activity to another. It takes time for our brains to switch to this new context or task, wasting precious productive time to process. We’re really only built to focus on a single task at a time, which is why context switching is considered to be time-consuming.

Why is Context Switching So Time Consuming?

When you are focused on one task, and then suddenly, you get a text message, you look at it out of habit. This text message that has nothing to do with your previous task has now interrupted the track you are on. So, once you put the phone down, you tell yourself you’re going to text back later after you finish the task at hand.

However, now you can’t get your mind off of that text message that you have to send. All of your focus internally is going towards the text. This is making you feel a lot less productive, even though reading the text message took all of 30 seconds out of your day. 

This causes you to be tired. After all, your brain is running on overdrive because you’re now technically juggling multiple tasks simultaneously.

The same is true for responding to emails. If you get a pop-up notification of a new email while you’re deep in work, this focus switch can cost you a lot of precious focus that is hard to get back into.

How to Increase Productivity When Context Switching

So, now we’re aware that task switching costs precious time and focus, you’re probably looking for a solution to avoid context switching altogether. While there are some tips we’ll provide on avoiding context switching, we’ll also provide some tips to increase your productivity when dealing with task switching – as it’s not always possible to avoid entirely in today’s ‘always on’ society.

1. Turn on Do Not Disturb

It’s easier said than done, but by turning do not disturb on your phone, you mitigate the issues of phone calls and text messages coming through. If this isn’t possible for you to do this because you use your phone for work, you can turn on ‘do not disturb’ for individual contacts you know are going to distract you.

2. Use a Tab Restrictor

Using a tab restrictor will help you to cut down on opening social media or other things that could distract you on your browser. You can download one of these on your computer, and it will restrict your tabs to only the ones you allow. So, you can avoid having too many tabs open at once. You can even block out specific ones that you know are distracting until a specific time. There are plenty of these offered on the internet; browse around and find a solution that works best for you. 

3. Schedule in Breaks

Using a schedule is a godsend when it comes to the working day. To prevent urges to pick up your phone or check your emails while working on a project, you should schedule breaks where you can specifically do these things. If you know you have a task to complete during a certain time and another task right after, you can break this up by adding a break in between. 

4. Work on Similar Tasks

Depending on your job, one way to help reduce context switching is to focus on similar tasks in one go. So, rather than hopping about, you focus your attention on one specific type of work – for example updating spreadsheets or replying to emails. This will help reduce the processing power your brain needs. 

5. Use a Tab Organisation Extension

When trying to multitask, good organisation is the most effective way to stay on track. Reducing the amount you click around hunting for information or signing in and out of applications will help you stay in the flow. Switch is a productivity tool that works within the browser to help you manage your tabs and login to multiple accounts of the same application with full visibility. It’s the best friend you need when you’re hopping about between tasks to keep you focused.

Try Switching to Switch to Boost Productivity Even When Multitasking!

Switch is a browser extension that makes it simple and easy to manage your digital life. With Switch, you can complete tasks easily, manage emails and social media, and flow between multiple tabs simply, all from within one browser.

Download Switch today to avoid the productivity slump caused by context switching!