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How to improve at multi tasking at work?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Series C Startupa year ago

My manager said to me in 1:1 that I take too much time to context switch from one task to the other. He said I can do a better job on my whole multi-tasking approach toward work.

Any tips on how to improve?

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    I have a reputation at being very good at context switching, but to be honest, I'm not entirely sure if it's "teachable". I don't think the human mind is naturally well-equipped for context switching; it's much better at focusing on a single thing.

    All that being said, here are my thoughts:

    • Write a lot - The idea is to leave a "paper trail" of important details that you can quickly absorb to ramp yourself up. Let's say you are working on tasks A and B and are constantly switching between them. If you have a very well-written ticket for both including information like relevant code areas, progress on the task so far, and current blockers, you can just read all that context to quickly "download" what you need to get back "into the groove" of a task when you switch into it.
    • Write good code - This sounds like obvious advice, but it's genuinely really important for context switching. If code is hard to understand, it is hard to switch between working on different parts of a codebase. On the other hand, if code is written simply and elegantly, it's easy to smoothly move around across the codebase. Here's our best resource on how to do that: "How to Learn/Practice Clean Code, particularly by oneself?"
    • Leverage people aggressively for knowledge transfer - The fastest way to learn the context around something is to have an expert on that subject matter explain it to you. Once you get all that context, write it down of course! To help with this, here's some of our best resources around asking effective questions:

    Here's some additional productivity resources that may help as well: