Development is a multistep, often complex process that we try to break down into easy, manageable goals. Methods like Agile and Scrum aim to streamline the entire process, but most developers still find themselves burning the candle at both ends trying to tackle ten things at once.
In our fast-paced culture, productivity is money. We think that being the fastest and most efficient automatically makes us the best, and that multitasking is one of the strongest skills you can have in the modern world. Is it really so?
Research has proven that human beings are horrible multitaskers; Dr. Nancy K. Napler, Ph.D., points out in her article, “The Myth of Multitasking”, that neuroscientists have proven multitasking as we know it is really a counterproductive, rapid switching between disparate activities.
In other words, your multitasking is a lie. You aren’t really doing three things at once; you’re just shifting your attention rapidly from one to the other, which ultimately only hinders your ability to perform any of them to your greatest ability.
So, what’s the alternative? You probably can’t just focus on one thing all day, and with short deadlines, developers need to be efficient. The good news is that you don’t have to compromise fast work for excellent results. You need to learn how to create the near-perfect workflow.
Juggling multiple tasks at once usually results in a decrease in overall productivity. Being able to perform more than one task doesn’t mean you’re being more productive. In fact, since our minds are designed to focus on one thing at a time, doing more doesn’t equate to increased productivity. This is especially true when you work in a creative, dynamic field like software development (5).
Let’s think about this for a moment.
In a creative role, like coding, focus and flow rely on each other. A simple distraction like a chat ping or text message only lasts seconds, but it can leave you distracted for up to 23 minutes (6). That’s nearly half an hour of slower work and missed opportunity.
What does that mean for your company? Improved efficiency at the expense of greater distraction leaves no one better off; multitasking can leave your inhouse developer constantly interrupted, possibly overwhelmed and even lead to burnout.
At NerdCloud, we take productivity seriously, and we believe there is such a thing as the near-perfect workflow. What does this mean? That nothing is truly perfect, but there is a way for developers, coders and creatives to do their work better without burning the candle at both ends.
Just like it takes 21 days to build a habit, the effects of being pushed to always be a multitasker likely won’t disappear overnight. You’ll have to apply different strategies to see which ones work best for you, and that requires a bit of trial and error.
We’ve designed our processes to make developers’ work simpler and easier. In addition to having the right tools, you can also try some of these tactics for improvising your workflow without the constant juggling act.
Some of the world’s greatest minds knew that they could only achieve one great thing at once. Benjamin Franklin, for example, was a fan of time-blocking, which consists of carving out short periods to do specific tasks (9). Time-blocking should be built around your schedule as well as your job’s demands. Learn to set priority lists for the day, and structure everything you do around them. There is no need to work on something due in a week when you have a checkpoint coming up in two days.
Downsize your tasks until they have miniscule goals that are so small, they’re almost laughable. It’s a lot more efficient than you may think; because looking at a single list of moderate to lengthy tasks can be overwhelming, break them down into micro-steps that you knock off one by one. As you get comfortable with the process, you’ll find yourself breezing through some of your biggest action items without skipping a beat.
Being in constant communication with clients and colleagues isn’t always a good thing. In our digital culture, FOMO has a way of creeping into every face of our lives. Even working can feel like a potential loss if we aren’t always caught up with what our team is doing.
Instead of always keeping notifications on, check important channels once per hour. Unless something is urgent, you don’t need to continually code through a stream of Slack messages, text messages and emails.
While quick-thinking and adaptability are important skills coders need, they provide the greatest value outside of multitasking. It’s time for companies to shift away from the do-it-all mindset and instead learn to create priority in their schedules and also task lists. This gives coders greater ability to work without distraction, be more flexible in their jobs and deliver the fantastic products your consumers expect.
Contact us so we can help you to take steps towards your near-perfect workflow.