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Multi-Tasking

Performing more than one task at any one time.

Multi-task at Your Peril

All lifeforms perform more than one task at a time, like scanning a walking trail while it walks, thinking about lunch, and was the iron left on, and will it burn down the cave. Multi-tasking is beneficial and actually essential. So naturally with pride we attempt to do as much as possible to see how good we are, before too long we're also adjusting our jacket on the walking trail, and thinking about that new horse, and oops you have just tripped over the stump that you did not see and land flat on your face. Luckily your ego broke the fall and you are not hurt.

 

This is what happens when you take on too much - All the tasks suffer. I call this going wide, that is, a broad number of tasks at once. I call focusing on one task going deep (in thought).

 

We have a fixed amount of energy to use in a fixed timeframe, which varies from lifeform to lifeform. Our maximum energy for tasks is a simple formula;

 

Task energy (max.) = Width of tasks X Depth of tasks

The Deepness of Tasks Results in Higher Result Quality

The wider we go in tasks (more of them), the less deep we can go, and vica versa.

 

Consider the following diagrams, a task is a blue bar. The longer the bar the better the quality of a result, but if we take on too many tasks they all suffer as the amount of task energy is fixed, that is the total area shaded in blue.

 

Width vs DepthToo Wide

Concentration is Task Depth

To do a task really well you need to go quite deep, that is, focus on the one thing and nothing else. Going deep is also called concentration. Ever noticed that your best work happens when you concentrate on thing at a time?

Balancing the Number of Tasks

A basic rule of thumb is not performing more than 7 tasks at once. This seems to be the natural limit for humans, give or take 1 or 2 tasks. Of course you can do better but your overall progress will deteriorate as you exceed this number. You will get tired, irritable, and forget where you are up to. Tasks will be dropped mid-stream and you will forget where you left off when you get back to it, if you even manage to get back to it. Writing things down helps but it doesn't help the exhaustion. Pace yourself if you want great results and you will remain enthusiastic.

 

So for the best results do not take on too many tasks at once. Stream them one after another for optimum quality, and slightly wide for time efficiency.