I don’t believe in multi-tasking. I feel like the more things we try to do at the same time, the worse of a job we do on all of them. Besides, we really only ever actually do one thing at a time, the other things simply distract us from giving our full attention and intention to the main task at hand.
So, how do we juggle everything we need to do and manage all the ideas for new tasks that are in our face at any given moment? Good question. If you know the answer, please tell me. Meanwhile, I’m trying to practice rapid serialization. I still do too many things in a short amount of time, but I’m try to at least change my mindset: “I’m not doing all of this at once. I’m only doing one of these at once. Those other things are waiting right there for me to do next.” The hard part is trust those other things are going to be right there, and that I wont lose them simply because I don’t have them loaded up into my memory.
Project management tools are way too heavy for this part. A full-on GTD system is too distracting for this part. (Though I use both.) I just need a simple list that is always there that makes it easy for me to track everything going on right now, and lets me set down the new ideas that come to mind. And, most importantly, anything still on the list at the end of a productive burst is processed out into my real GTD system.
If I spent most of my time with a pen or pencil in my hand, my solution would be a 3×5 notecard on the desk beside me. Since I spend most of my time with a keyboard in my hand (and rarely even sit at a desk) I need the equivalent on my computer. No heavy apps, tagging, categories, attachments or blah blah blah, just a place to scratch down the stuff I’m trying to get done right now, or need to remember later because I’m getting things done right now.
For those of you who are more interested in the tech than the theory, here’s the punch-line: I’m using google tasks as fluid app.
When I sit down to get into the flow, I do a brain dump of the stuff I need to do right now. When I recognize I’m trying to do two things at once I either dump one to the list, or remind myself they both are already on there and refocus on what I was already doing. Unless it TRULY is an emergency, there is no reason to switch contexts. They are both going to get done, so I’m exercising my “focus intently on what I’m doing” muscle.
I truly believe we need to assign more value to our attention and intention. Rapid serialization is one experiment to practice this belief.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Potts Weinstein