Context-switching is killing you slowly

April 8, 2022

Context switching is our tendency to shift from one unrelated task to another. We waste over 1-2 hours a day in unproductive transitions between tasks and to-dos. Many desktop tools are to blame for this constant distraction. Honest can help you reduce context switching and improve productivity

Context-switching is killing you slowly


Context-switching is affecting your productivity more than you think

Have you ever felt like the day is flying by, but you're not accomplishing anything? You look back at your day and see that you were busy all day, but you got almost nothing accomplished. Chances are that context-switching is to blame. Multitasking is a thing of the past. Context-switching is the new buzz word for experts to accept there is a limit to multitasking.

Let’s say that it takes you one hour to get into a state of flow and accomplish something meaningful on a project. Suddenly, a Slack notification pops up on your desktop. And, of course, you click on it. That’s death by a thousand cuts! Researchers say it can take up to 9.5 minutes to get back into a workflow after switching between digital apps.

According to Atlassian's The State of Work Report 2019, knowledge workers have an average attention span of just 52 minutes before they shift their focus somewhere else. This means there are about four context switches per hour throughout the workday for knowledge workers.

Multiply 9.5 minutes lost per 5, 10… times of context-switching per day times 52 weeks a year… and you suddenly realize how massive this problem is. The overlapping of tools, tasks and other colleagues’ needs is the elephant in the room that must be reined in.

Focusing on actual high-quality work

Instead of having 8-10 (or more) browser tabs open, focus on one task at a time. I know this is easier said than done, but the results will be worth it. Same with Slack notifications. Turn them off. Set up your "away" calendar and stick to it. And most important, be in command of the tools you use the most, like your email.

The average person only has so much cognitive energy to expend each day. Context switching eats away at that and prevents you from making progress on what’s important. If you try to work on three things at once, chances are they’ll all be done poorly. Instead of multitasking, focus on doing one thing at a time and breaking up the work into manageable tasks that can be accomplished in <30 minutes (ideally).

This is how Honest helps you stick to context

Honest is our way of giving users a simple, powerful tool to reduce context-switching from their lives. If more than 80% of work originates from your inbox, why not helping you stick to those emails, without having to switch to other tools (like Slack or Asana)?

Honest is meant to enhance not just the information within an email, but those ‘invited’ (cc’d, fwd’) to that very same email thread. The context has been created correctly, so you don’t need to duplicate it somewhere else. We give you an chat-like, extra layer to close one issue at a time.

You can use Honest to create post-it-like notes, communicate with those copied, assign micro tasks and/or ad last minute comments for a better resolution of the subject being discussed. It’s free and we keep on improving it non-stop.