A few weeks ago, I republished an article originally published in Better Software: Convincing Management That Context Switching Is a Bad Idea on the AYE site. I’d received no feedback about the article when it was published, so I wanted to generate some discussion about my ideas.
I did generate a little discussion. Don Gray first said “Context switching is fun!“. Later on, he said the differences were:
- One switches between similar tasks, the other doesn’t.
- I’m not under deadline pressure. (Should anyone be?)
- I get to choose when to switch contexts.
George Dinwiddie discusses the issues of flow in his Context Switching post and the consequences of being interrupted. Don Gray in Context Switching -Congruent Action discusses why managers feel it’s ok to ask people to do multiple things.
I still think managers assign people to context switch for these reasons:
- The manager can’t decide what’s most important.
- The manager doesn’t understand/remember that technical work is different from management work, and that the more things a technical person works on, the less that person will get done and the worse the work is.
- The manager can’t remember all the work required and doesn’t realize he or she is asking one person to work on more than one thing.
- The manager still believes that people who multi-task are more efficient or get more work done than people who don’t.
Do you have better arguments than mine? What do you think?