Delta Engine Blog

All about multiplatform and game development

Only work at one task at a time

I want to quote from this great article I just read: Singletasking: The Next Trend in Web Working?

"Singletasking is just what it sounds like: approaching and tackling one task at a time, sequentially, instead of trying to do a whole bunch of things at once, as has become de rigeur in our modern multitasking age. If you’re like me, the thought is probably at least a little refreshing, and maybe more than a little appealing right off the bat.

The principle is sound. Take on one task at a time, and don’t begin another until the one you’ve already started is complete. It sounds simple, but you know as well as I do that actually implementing that kind of thing in real life will take a lot more effort than you might first think. For one, it means ignoring any urge to procrastinate, and making sure that you prioritize very carefully in advance, lest you realize too late that what you thought was most urgent actually could’ve taken a back seat to something else."

The article goes on with tools used to track work tasks and even ideas on only use one Tab in Firefox and only using one monitor. I can hardly agree with that, I currently have 10 tabs open (after reading all emails and stuff on the web) because I don't have time right now to finish reading those sites or because some things are still pending (waiting for a response and keeping the tab open as a reminder). I also currently look at 3 monitors. Well not really, I only write this on my right monitor, but I have my main task (some optimization work) on my main screen in the center in Visual Studio. I really hate putting anything above Visual Studio because then I won't focus on writing code, but do other stuff instead. I only do it if I have to write some document, have to do some web research or reading some documentation.

While I totally agree with doing (and finishing) one task at a time (that's actually how my TODO list works that I use in every single project for the last 6+ years), I just can't agree with just having one monitor (or just using one at a time like the writer of the article proposes). For example when opening an editor like for our Unreal3 game, you absolutely need 2+ monitors because else you just have 5 overlapping windows and spend half of your time moving them around trying to see whats behind them.

In Visual Studio I only have the Solution Explorer sometimes and some Find Results or Console Windows on my secondary screen, but all the screens are filled with useful stuff anyway. I also have basically 2 screens at once at my primary screen anyway because I always look at 2 concurrent tabs in Visual Studio (really can't live without it). That does not mean that I really multitask. I ALWAYS only work on one tab, but I can quickly look over, see all the variables and methods that I need and I can code much faster that way.

If you want to have some distractions when working I suggest only checking them out after completing a task. I usually do it as a reward kinda thing, like playing a game I wanted to test out only after I finished my current task. And then continue with the next task.