Rid the Residue

person writing on notebook

I’ve been reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, and in it he mentions the concept of residue in regards to switching tasks. When you switch from one task to another, you are at risk of not fully concentrating on that new task as there is “residue” left over from the last task. I can fully get this. It’s not uncommon for me to switch between tasks throughout the day, from teaching to online meetings to writing to making videos, the list goes on. I also quite often find my mind wandering in each of these tasks if I’m not being careful. This wandering I think has a lot to do with the residue from earlier work.

To counteract this, well, you probably want to ensure big breaks between different types of tasks, but I like add some sort of buffer zone in my calendar if I can. This can simply be a normal break where you have 15 minutes to get away from your work, or in my case I like to spend time making coffee or another warm drink (recently I’ve been making Matcha lattes), and I find this time away from task is helpful at resetting my mind and getting it ready for something else.

I’ve always said that every day we should be doing something that forces us into the moment, something where we can just let our mind wander, something creative, or something else that requires concentration, and I think these sorts of tasks would be great for forming this buffer between tasks and helping rid the residue. For me that often comes in the form of manually making a coffee, but it can also be something like stretching or even writing for that matter.

Of course Cal’s suggestions are also good, but I’ll let him take care of that part 🙂



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