The Cost of Context

Mitigating the cost of switching context

The Cost of Context

For most of us we juggle multiple different work streams daily. We can do this but at what cost? For me personally a typical day could have me bouncing all around. Between three different client calls, and three other internal meetings. All having nothing to do with one another.

But to be effective for anything you are working on you must have context. Simply setting the stage for what you are about to do. So switching between is going to require some time to set the context. Think of a developer picking up where they left off looking at the last five or six edits. Or reading the notes for a call right before it. In short context switching. Most of the time, this is 5 to 10 minutes before a meeting. If it is something you are working on solo that is your first 10 to 15 minutes.

Where people have issues with this context switching is when you have back to back meetings. If you are not switching context between meetings question why you are meeting. You are probably not needed in it. To combat this, shorten the meeting. Taking hour long meetings down to 45 minutes, and half hour long meetings down to 20 to 25 minutes. This gives you some time to prep for the meeting. I have seen that people are a little more concise and to the point when meetings are shorter.

When it comes to work you are doing solo, block out time for it. Need to finish up a deck for a presentation? Set aside an hour or hour and a half to knock it out. Where jumping back and forth from a meeting to work every 30 minutes to an hour is not very productive. Try setting your calendar accordingly if you can. I reserve my mornings for solo work and my afternoons for meetings.

Sure you are reading this thinking to yourself, “this is nonsense”. But if you jump back and forth from meetings and solo efforts, you are probably not focusing the way you should. And that meeting you just had? Well, you get the drift.