Na? How many browser tabs have you just opened? Surely it’s at least. 10 and a few chats are still open. some may be professional in nature, in between fun sites and other.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: it’s almost impossible to work through individual tasks one after the other without being distracted. Even as I write this article, I watch Netflix on the side and reply to chats in Whatsapp. No chance to write down the blog article in one piece.

Myth Multitasking

Let’s take a look at the job advertisements: The ideal employee should be resilient and flexible. So it should be multitasking and, like a computer, it can do several tasks at the same time. But it’s hard to focus on several things and yet it’s so hard for us to focus on one thing.

We watch TV while eating TV and meeting our mails. Scientists at the University of Stanford have already dealt extensively with the topic of multitasking in 2009. Two groups were observed in the experiment. Of course, the group was qualitatively better and faster, which tasks worked out one after the other.

Focus, however, is difficult for us. Technology in particular is to blame and has made everything simple and fast.

That’s why multitasking is bad

Studies show that multitasking releases the happiness hormone dopamine as well as cortisol (stress hormone). On the one hand, we are happy that we are creating so much and want more, but on the other hand we put ourselves under stress and at some point we can no longer really think into things. The cause: We just work things out and deliver poor quality and zero creativity

Especially new technologies and smartphones make our work significantly faster and set us full of distractions. In the past, we had significantly fewer tasks, e.g. 4-5 large tasks, while through methods like Scrum we now do over 100 constantly changing micro tasks per week.

PS: There are a few isolated examples of people doing parallel and good tasks. Unfortunately, there is currently no explanation why these people are capable of doing so.

Tips for less context change in the workplace

I would like to show you my personal tips, which I have collected over the last years.

Prioritization of tasks

Instead of editing multiple tasks in parallel, I try to prioritize. I look at what’s important and what’s not and schedule tasks. There is never need to do all of this at once. I help my employees with clear backlogs in Jira, which is important and what is not. We also talk to sales regularly.

Checklist with clear prioritization

Rest periods and blockers for demanding tasks

But what to do if you take longer for a task? As head of department, I have to be constantly available and can hardly complete a task in peace. It simply cannot be avoided, because my employees need decisions from me.

But there are tasks such as concepts or new processes that require my full concentration and time. I learned until recently i wrote my doctoral thesis for a year. It takes some time (1h) until I was in it and then I had to at least. 4h at a time.

I then inform all my employees and simply turn off the systems and messages. It has to go without me and I only have one channel open for really important messages.

My calendar in one day with blockers (orange) for quiet work

Bundling of task complexes

Tasks that belong together or are very similar, I try to do as you like to do in a wash-up. For me, this is answering emails and chat messages. Advantage is that I don’t have to think so often in smaller messages and can avoid these distractions very well.

My calendar in one day with bundles for emails (purple)

Working with new (agile) methods

Agile methods are made for the digital age. We’ve learned before that timeboxing is a very simple and effective method. But also for complex topics to create boards, a simple and good methodology is easy to map to complex topics.

Kanban Board for writing my last book – virtual teams and home office

Image source: Car photo created by diana.grytsku –

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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