Quick Tips, Time Management

Serenity Tip: Activity Switching

This number startled me. I think it was probably calculated in an office environment, but it might be relevant wherever you spend your days: on average, we switch activities every three minutes.

Serenity Tip: Switching Activities

How incredibly sad, that our schedules, to-do lists and even our brains are arranged that we don’t focus on any single thing for more than a few hundred seconds. I’ve long been a critic of Instant Messenger, which just seems to me yet another way for us to interrupt each other. But combine that with the phone, two inboxes and office conversations, not to mention the six different programs and ten different browser tabs I have open at any given time, and it’s not surprising that tasks get all mashed together.

I’m highlighting this tip today because I think just knowing that number (and yours might be four, five, or six minutes) can help us spot when our minds become sophisticated grasshoppers. There are various techniques to counteract this, including the Pomodoro method, blocking the internet, or even the concept of an Airplane Day.

Do you feel like you switch tasks too often? If so, what are you doing to try to focus for longer?

A Spoonful of Serenity

A spoonful of serenityI hate to encourage you to leap from this page to others, but these resources are all useful around the theme of focus:

  • This plugin for Chrome is called StayFocusd [sic] and may help you do just that.
  • We’re happier when we stay in the moment. This Ted Talk explains further. Can you focus for the entire ten minute duration?
  • Put the brakes on distractions with this thoughtful piece from the Harvard Business Review.


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2 Comment

  1. Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    April 6, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Pauline, I find that number (3 minutes) shocking and yet believable. I think my resistance to technology has helped me in this area. Though I was an early user of email (because of a business I had), I never did instant messaging. And I keep the volume turned off on my computer, so I don’t hear every time an email comes in. I was also one of the first people in town to get a cell phone (again, because of my business at the time), but I handled it (and still do) differently than most people. I keep it turned off most of the time, and the outgoing message on it says “If you’d like to leave a message, call me on my landline and leave a message there.” I mostly use it to *make* calls, not take calls.

    1. Reply
      April 7, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Yes, I’m in that camp too: a cell phone is for my convenience, not other people’s! In fact, I get so many junk calls on the cell phone these days, I’ve basically stopped answering it unless the number is a known contact.

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