Context Switching

These past weeks have had the effect of grinding my brains to a pulp, rendering my average attention span no better than that of a hummingbird on Jolt.

To cope with the mess my schedule is in, I've resorted to a few unorthodox techniques that seem to have had some mitigating effect:

  • Put everything on a task list. A lot of things start to drop out of your head when you're juggling as many things as I am, but they're a bit less likely to drop out of a task list. My 2210 is a great help there.
  • Changing from one task to another often forces you to close a set of windows, find and re-open another set of documents/terminal sessions, whatever. The trick is to minimize the time you need to change tasks:
    • If you run any variety of UNIX whatsoever, go wild with VNC
      • Create as many VNC servers as you need workspaces
      • Set up ion as a X window manager - it's light, fast, and you have no reason to waste time fiddling with windows.
    • If you have Windows, use Terminal Services to set up remote workspaces.
  • Rest. Take forced breaks. Go fill the water bottle or something. Read The Economist before leaving for a meeting - the radical context switch is a welcome pause for your brain.
  • Do something within the physical realm - sort through actual, paper paperwork you've been neglecting, a drawer, a closet, whatever. These too are welcome breaks from sitting at a computer and keep the 5% of your monkey brain synapses happy.
  • Use the Del key instantly on distracting e-mail. Instantly. Don't flinch. If it's really important, they'll call. Most do anyway, because people like to chatter about their needs.
  • Control your caffeine intake. If it's really stressing work, you don't need any more stimulants - it's like giving an adrenaline shot to someone holding a shotgun.
  • Keep your social interactions short and pleasant - too much detail leads to project-related arguments.
  • Ignore snide remarks from pointy-haired bosses - if they're complaining, it's because they're covering up for the fact that it was their responsibility to ensure things had gone better in the first place, so they're as edgy as you are.

More on the G5

My favorite quote so far: It's, uhm, fast. It's Igor fast. And by that I mean: remember "Young Frankenstein"? Remember how Gene Wilder would call for Igor, and look to the right, and before he'd finished saying "I-" Marty Feldman would appear to his left? That's how fast it is..

Hilarious. At least when you're as tired as I am.