How to NOT drop tasks assigned?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Series A Startup20 days ago

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?



  • Avtar Sohi
    Staff Software Engineer [E6] at Meta
    20 days ago

    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.

    • - High priority
    • - Low priority
    • - Long term
  • Jordan Cutler
    Senior Software Engineer and Career Coach
    20 days ago

    Great question. As an avid context switcher, I have some tips for this.

    • Schedule time on your calendar to yourself to specifically work on something. Reward yourself if you manage to spend time doing it or punish yourself if not (like doing 20 pushups)
    • Look up the GTD system and Clark Kegley Notion templates. I personally have not tried them but they help for stuff like this. The general idea is that you track what you plan to do in a couple buckets that make it easy to just pull from the right "queue."
    • Set slack reminders. You can use the "remind me later" feature in Slack to not let things slip.
    • Try to be observant about when you said you would do something but haven't got around to it. Most times the other person just wants to know you didn't forget about it, so you can let them know you haven't forgot but haven't got to it. For me, I have literally just a bullet list at the top of my Notion inbox and I check it every day or two. If I see something is on there that I know someone has been waiting on for awhile, I'll DM them to let them know I didn't forget

    Hope this helps!

  • Rahul Pandey
    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    18 days ago

    I feel this question! (lots of dangling sentences and incomplete Slack messages...)

    What helps me:

    • Put every task, even small ones, into a task backlog. Some people call this a "second brain" -- the idea is that you shouldn't use your brain to remember what to do. That should be in your Google Doc/Notion/whatever.
      • Before: Read a Slack message, type out a partial response, and then forget about it
      • After: Read a Slack message, make a note in my backlog to reply, and then move on with the original task I was working on
    • Figure out how to (1) lower the stakes of dropping things or (2) give yourself more margin for error. One way to do this is to have more frequent check-ins or deadlines on important tasks. You can do this through a calendar invite or an accountability partner.

    Here's the full masterclass on productivity and managing your time in tech.