Anxiety, OCD and SPD: Navigating The Difficulties of Task Switching (and 6 Tricks)
April 21, 2023
Task switching is difficult for me, and it has been ever since I was a child. Moving from one thing to the next. Alternating between tasks. It’s something I still struggle with today. But I’m finding ways to ease the anxiety I feel when switching between tasks.
I don’t really know what it is about task switching that is so difficult for me. Maybe it’s the future thinking. Always wondering what’s next. Maybe it’s the physical shift of going from one thing to another. The change. I struggle with change, so that would make sense.
When task switching, you have to shift your thinking too. Like if I’m working at the computer and then I switch to walking on the treadmill. Going from sitting to standing. From thinking hard to hardly thinking. The rhythm changes. The pulse. Maybe that’s why music helps me transition so much. It sets the tone.
No matter how difficult task switching is, it’s here to stay. But I’ve found some tricks to help me switch tasks more effectively. So if you struggle with task switching like I do, here are some things to do:
- Pair your task with something that brings you joy. Light a candle, eat a snack, get a coffee, etc. For example, I’ll listen to music and walk outside, or I’ll eat a snack and work.
- Listen to music. I listen to deep alpha music when I work, but I switch to something more upbeat when I’m done. I find that the change helps me get in the mood for the task at hand. And music of any kind always soothes my soul.
- Set timers. I notice I get less anxiety when a timer is set. Like I don’t have to think about what’s next until the timer goes off. It helps with the future thinking required for task switching.
- Create a schedule every day. And do your best to stick to it. Having a schedule allows me to allot time for each task, lessening my anxiety about everything I need to do. It also helps me move in between tasks fluidly–once my timer goes off, I go to my schedule for the next task.
- Move in between tasks. No matter what your tasks are, make sure you move your body throughout the day. When we stay sitting, we stay stagnant, and it allows stress to build in our bodies. Moving helps release that stress.
- Take breaks in between tasks. Breaks are a tough one. If I don’t take a break, I get done sooner, but then I risk burning out. And transitioning in and out of a task in order to take a break is tricky. But breaks are essential for our mental health, so I make myself do it. Even if it’s just five minutes. I do things throughout the day that are just for me.
Whatever you do to help you switch tasks, I hope you feel joy and ease.
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Photo by karina zhukovskaya