illustration of octopus working at office

multitasking and you

September 28, 2020

written by
Joren Mathews

Are you or members of your team underperforming? In today’s crazy world, we all know anything less than 100% attention utilization is unbearable. Even 5% unoccupied mental capacity could let the darkness in. Here is one developer’s take on how to optimize your on-the-job performance.

With that in mind, I’ve developed a finely calibrated set of side-distractions to occupy my remaining attention depending upon the complexity of my current task.

Low-attention tasks

Examples: Content entry, slicing assets from designs, video calls.

These leave plenty of attention left over for in-depth podcasts or Youtube video essays. Interested in the economic ramifications of a trade policy or tarrif? Time to learn!

Medium-attention tasks

Examples: CSS, HTML, straightforward JS, in-person conversations from nearby humans.

You have to cut back a bit at this tier. This is a good place for comedy podcasts, live streamed political rallies, “hard-hitting” “investigative” “journalism” stories or other similar fripperies.

Medium-high attention tasks

Examples: Complex layouts, more involved JS, writing blog posts.

Here is where musicals shine. Throw on some Les Miserables, Hadestown, or Wicked. They’re lyrically interesting enough to keep you occupied, without worrying about losing track of your work or your place in the song.

High attention tasks

Examples: Implementing poorly documented APIs, Oauth2, recursive code, your boss “Needs to speak with you”.

This is a great place for classical, heavy metal, or other largely instrumental music which easily fades into the background and energizes you.




Thank you for coming to my TED talk.