Less is More

There\’s a nice article about the evils of multitasking over at Creating Passionate Users. I\’ve always accepted that context-switching was a bad thing, but I still find it hard to avoid. My current job (though I love it) requires more context-switching than I\’ve had to deal with anywhere else. It\’s largely because common tasks can take quite a while to complete. In that 10-minute downtime I think, \”well, I might as well respond to this email while I wait,\” or, \”I should get this other task going and then I can come back to the first one while this one\’s processing something.\”

I tend to have 3 bullet points in active development simultaneously, and then there\’s the bevy of other tasks like email, code reviews, documentation, etc. to add to that. I\’m afraid to count the number of context-switches I make in a normal work day. It can\’t be less than 100. We\’ve recently started using Scrum and I\’ve noticed a definite decrease in context-switching. Most of what remains is due to tools that aren\’t fast enough to just wait around for.

There does seem to be a large part of the software industry that doesn\’t see the negatives of context-switching, and that often takes pride in how many tasks can be done at once. I hope that, with the improvments that Scrum and other changes bring, we can change at least a bit of that perception at one company.

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