Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Creating Dedicated, Focused Time

Note: This was originally posted to the Dynamo Blog.

Working on multiple projects in a single day has a mental cost and less efficient than dedicating time to a single project. Segmenting the week to work on a specific project and allocating time for the unexpected is one possible solution for reducing the cost of context switching.

Yesterday we had a terrific conversation in our weekly project mini-retrospective about the cost of context switching in the studio. This is a problem that any service-based company with multiple clients has, but it’s a tough problem specifically when providing creative services. At Dynamo, we’re working on engaging problems, which require dedicated, focused time to solve.

However, during the day we might be working on multiple projects, and there are maintenance tasks competing for our attention. So how might we reduce the context switching to create dedicated, focused time?

Our solution has four components:

  1. Segment the week to dedicate specific days to a project, depending on the velocity required.
  2. Assign a dedicated day to work on maintenance. This is planning for the unexpected, and the unexpected always happens.
  3. Publish your schedule. Let your team members and project managers know what days you have assigned.
  4. Project managers will be mindful of these assigned days.

The last component is the key. When project managers know the maintenance day of the project’s maintainer, then expectations can be appropriately set with the client when a maintenance task can be completed.

Of course, emergencies and rush tasks are always going to arise. But, in reality these are rare. So I plan to put this into practice, and I will let you know how it goes. How do you reduce the context switching to create dedicated, focused time? Let us know in the comments.

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