On a given working day, how many tasks you should plan? One of the productivity advice is to focus on one task at a time, and I agree that’s good feedback. But is that always a good idea? Let’s see.
Whenever I take on a task, I try to give it all my attention/focus. This includes blocking any interruptions, making sure I’m not thinking about my to-do list or other items I have for the day, etc.
And with all the good intentions of trying to finish the task at hand, sometimes I just can’t push forward. Either I’m blocked by something I can’t understand or an error that doesn’t make sense, or I just don’t feel like working on that task anymore.
This is why it’s always a good idea to plan at least 2 tasks per day, but with a clear priority. You start with the highest priority task, and when you start to feel blocked, or you’re tired of working on the task in hand, you move to the other one.
Feeling blocked can hurt your momentum and mood and having a “backup task” is a good idea to avoid this. However, this also means you should adapt your way of thinking/perceiving of your to-do list. Let me explain.
On a given day, you may only work on your highest priority item, or you may be blocked and end up working on the other task only. In all cases, you’ll not complete both tasks at the end of the day.
If you see a task still on your to-do list at the end of the day, you may feel that you weren’t productive, or you didn’t achieve what you planned. But always remember: You added that task as a backup only, you were not supposed to work on it in the first place.