I have been repeatedly told that I have a tendency to drop things when doing context switch between multiple tasks. How to manage my tasks effectively so that I can minimize this pattern?
Thank you for asking. I have been there multiple times.
Here are a couple of things that helped me:
1. Since my team has a lot of random work, I started to reserve 20% of my time for that work. It helped me take up new tasks without overworking or dropping existing ones.
2. Inviting the team lead and manager to make decisions on priority and being upfront about what can and cannot be done. It will help you and your lead/manager understand your workload and expectations.
3. Dividing your weekly tasks into three categories can help you track how many items you have in the high-priority bucket. If it goes above your threshold, push back and invite lead/manager in re-prioritizing.
Great question. As an avid context switcher, I have some tips for this.
Hope this helps!
I feel this question! (lots of dangling sentences and incomplete Slack messages...)
What helps me:
Here's the full masterclass on productivity and managing your time in tech.
Such a classic engineering question - I 100% feel this. I have a couple thoughts here.
I know that this sounds obvious, but you'll often be surprised at what you can get away with here. As a mid-level engineer, your schedule shouldn't be too packed with meetings (if so, try removing some), so I highly recommend setting up focus blocks. Tactically, it should look something like this:
We talk more about focus blocks here: A Powerful Tool For Software Engineer Productivity - Focus Blocks
The good news is that this problem can really be helped with tooling. Every tool like Asana/JIRA allows you to put a due date on tasks, and you can customize how it alerts you (e.g. approaching the due date sends you an email/Slack message).
And if you don't have due dates, then this might be the underlying problem. Push your manager to clarify expectations, so you two can work better together.
Some days I'll just have like 5+ tasks and I can't de-prioritize any of them away. In this case, I'll write a small checklist on a local note, and just go through them one by one with a rough idea of how many hours each one should take. Having the simpler format is better than looking at Asana/JIRA board spaghetti.
No seriously. The "trick" here is to do it with alignment from your manager:
Ruthless prioritization is a crucial survival skill at any fast-moving company, and a Series A startup will generally be fast.
Here's some other resources I really recommend: