In case someone else feels the same way, what worked for me is to talk to my coworkers. I usually go out for coffee or long walks and let my mind wander. I'd talk about work, politics, our families, and usually the conversation wanders back to work and what we are doing.
Many scenarios usually come up from those talks. Sometimes I'll find what my coworkers working on pretty interesting and get involved (which sometimes makes coming back to my work easier). Sometimes I ended up talking about my work (explaining my problems to others helps me clarify and solidify what I needed to do). Sometimes I realize that another team has already done the work and all I have to do is ask them for a library. Once I realize that my work was meaningless and purely a political play and I left the company soon after.
So going out for long walks and just talking with different people in my company has worked out really well for me.
- Like you said, going for a walk (activates beneficial genes, helps circadian rhythm)
- Stop caffeine as soon and often as you can. Sometimes situations force me to use a pick-me-up, but I try and stop the day after.
- Go to bed early (10PM ideally)
- Vitamin D, Magnesium, etc. also check out near infrared therapy to improve mitochondrial function
- Moderate exercise (overtraining has a bad net effect on nearly everything, so stop if working out makes you feel worse; if you have a heart rate variability monitor, you can use that as a metric for overtraining)
- Small talk (works for me to „wake the brain up“)
But really, 90% of the time I just have to sleep more. The others are just hacks to keep me going if I can’t get enough sleep (sometimes not easy with 2 kids).
I don't know about a lot of the rest of your post, but this bit is key. If you aren't getting enough sleep, nothing will help. The legends of politicians and executives who sleep 3 hours a day are either outliers for whom 3 hours genuinely is enough, or speed-freaks, or often enough both.
Actual creative workers and engineers require a different set of brain functionality, which requires deeper concentration, and hence need more sleep.
Another tip that worked for me is not eating any fast sugars at all.
I agree to this but I think the bigger problem is - How much more is actually "more"? Do you any literature about how to actually find your sleep length time?
Among other things, the book talks about how much sleep people need. Almost everyone needs around 8 hours—it varies with age, but it pretty consistent among people at the same with very rare exceptions. For most people, being short even by just one hour (ie a night with seven hours of sleep) has a number of measurable negative effects.
What I know affects how much sleep I need or how long I should give myself to sleep varies. I'm female and follow a cycle closely linked to hormones as a baseline. If I wake up at night (for toilet, etc), I need a bit more time. If I increase physical activity, I have an adjustment period that requires more sleep.
I'll also note that time of sleep impacts me. I'm better off waking after 9am (naturally this is 11am or so). I cannot always get enough quality sleep waking at 6am and 7am leaves me slightly deprived. I tried keeping a schedule even on the weekends, but I felt horrible and found it better to sleep a bit more to catch up.
Here is one example paper https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28545315 and while it isn't a direct example of how to find your own ideal sleep patterns, it does highlight the relationship between sleep and body weight in the study population and it again mentions the 6-8 hour recommended minimum sleep period. This source might be better https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/...
AFAIK the only way to be sure is to either go to a sleep lab, or get an accurate tracker like the Oura ring, which reportedly has a 80-90% accuracy compared to sleep lab data. With that data you can see the distribution of your various sleep phases, and the people in the lab or the app will tell you how much of each phase you'd ideally have.
But, why not just experiment a bit? Sleep 7/8/8.5h for a couple of days in a row, and keep track of how you feel and how much you procrastinate. E.g. for Mac, the Timing app is great at tracking how much time you spend in each app - one could use the amount of "productive" apps (text editor, IDE, graphical editor...) as a measure of productivity.
I followed this advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbHnpdtQKUA
I suffer from caffeine addiction: a cup of coffee in the morning just to make myself feel normal. I got terrible mental melt-down once I stopped coffee for a few days.
Plus some people just need more sleep than the 8hr average and need to wake and work later than most in society. I for example, have just slept 11hrs and woken at 11am, but I will get more done than if I had woken at 7-8am.
AFAIK almost everybody procrastinates (more or less), but not so many people are suffering from depression.
I don’t think that shitty tasks themselves can cause depression; it’s all about the social context of the work you are doing. Is your boss bullying you, or telling you that you are not important to the organization, or does she try to punish your mistakes? Are you working just to support a study you are not really into, because you think you owe it to your parents? Is there another job you would like better, but you dare not change jobs because you are afraid you won’t earn enough to support yourself? That’s the way to get depressed about the tasks you are doing. Sort out the social context, and you might even realize afterwards that the tasks were not so mundane after all.
These days I have a simpler trick: stop thinking, do <it>, don't stop until it's done (avoid multitasking, unless you're already into flow or you sense high motivation).
welcome to adulthood.
I think sometimes peoples intelligence works against them. A deep analysis of procrastination is itself procrastination. The fact that someone recognizes they are procrastinating is 90% of the way there to stopping. Next, they just need to step. Eventually, taking a step becomes habit.
This is great. Focus on the after feeling, and then work to get there as quickly as possible. What I found is that feeling of procrastination caused way more stress than just doing. Of course it's hard to see this in the moment, and requires discipline to get going. But after, it's a great feeling to crush through all these things that would otherwise drag on for a long period, and now enjoy my free time.
- As the other reply here says, getting enough sleep seems to make a massive difference. It's easy to say "I haven't got enough done on this today, I'll stay up late and just do a bit more..." and ending up in a cycle of being tired and not working enough where you really just needed a good rest.
- The article mentions the 10 minute timer thing. I've done a different timer thing, where I start a timer and tell myself I have to stop the timer any time I stop working. If I starting reading Hacker News or something, I have to pause the timer, and the pain of having my work minutes conspicuously not counting up as real time marches on is significant. The fact that you have to go and manually stop the timer when you stop working is also a mental barrier that gives you a chance to think rationally about whether you should be stopping. Unfortunately it's also easy to just forget to stop or restart it.
- The article and many like it talk about all these ways to "trick" your brain. Do x and y to "get that dopamine hit." Another comment here starts "You can't do a thing you don't feel like doing." But you're capable of thinking rationally. Sure it's easy to get into these habits of procrastination where you just naturally start getting away from work. But it's also possible to take a mental step back and just say NO, I'm in control of my own actions, and I'm going to work on this thing. And then just do it. Feels really bad when you're doing the work and you really want to be doing something else. Feels really good when you get the work done.
This is a great trick... also informing yourself honestly how many 'productive' hours you had at the end of a day. With all kinds of interruptions (many of those self-inflicted) some days the timer registered less than 3 hours when I was studying in university.
That realization prompted me to stop studying at home, and travel to the university library daily. There my pattern was similar to 50 minute periods of work (before Pomodoros were a thing) followed by 10 minute breaks. After that, I easily clocked 6 hours of real work daily.
I try to create collaboration setting so that I don't work alone on a task I don't like. For example, I tell my work mate "I need to finish this document, do you have time tomorrow afternoon to read it and give me feedback?". That creates a social obligation to get the task done.
- Use the 15 minute rule to get started, only agree to do 15-20 minutes of work to see if you are flowing in that project, most of the time once you get started and loaded up the project in your mental space you can easily flow on it. Pomodoro is nice as well, but the 15 minute get started rule has less commitment needed and usually works, or just plan to do at least one tomato and you end up doing many.
- Leave a currently solved code part partially done or leave a compile issue on the area you were working on, then wake up the next day, finish that part and you can flow right into other work because the domain is in your mind.
- Multiple projects and work on another project during procrastination or a thinking spot of the current project. Have main work projects, side projects, fun projects, some are more fun, more work or just tedious/rote that you can use depending on your productivity or work style of the day.
- Motivators and triggers: music (usually a playlist that is used during work to make it more regular), coffee/gum/work food, focus by turning off distractions except for breaks, stand up regularly and walk around when stuck on any issues that need to be done, and visualize shipping.
- Creative Open/Focused Closed state: do creative work in the open state, block out time and explore, do must be done work in the closed state, minimize distractions and exploration .
- Start the day right, work on something simple or one check in for instance before reddit/HN/news or distractions, sometimes the first thing you do in the morning can influence your whole day, reward yourself with distractions but base yourself in production at least 2 to 1 productivity to fun/distraction.
Ultimately be a pro, a pro can start working to a high level even when they don't want to, sometimes you need to jump start or get a rolling start but you can develop a habit to get moving and ship.
"I'll just get this one thing done real quick" instead of "I'll just check reddit real quick" - makes the lies one tells oneself work in your productivity's favor instead of against it for once ;)
I'm using a weekly checklist to keep routine chores small and "1 minute"able. Instead of letting mail pile up for months, once a week makes it a trivial task of immediately dumping a few opened letters into the recycling, and occasionally putting one in a filing cabinet.
Practice self care: Sleep, eat, groom, exercise, organize, relax, and socialize well (even if that's just a few minutes with a trusted friend for an introvert.) A tired, ill-fed, slovenly, disorganized, stressed out, anti-social couch potato will have difficulty being as motivated no matter how many productivity hacks they practice. Speaking from experience. (The mindset: "That's not important right now - I should be working on X instead! But I'm lazy...")
I'll check Reddit real quick with I'll wash this dish real quick
I guess bad habits can inspire good ones...
I always start/restart my job after a break by doing some trivial refactoring or writing comments at various parts of the code. This is a great way to "reload" the big picture into your memory. Eventually your brain will be active enough to tackle a more tricky part. I'd recommend this to anyone who feels down in morning.
I can add a few, which helped me a lot through my depression and getting things done in general:
- Plan your breaks: "I'll do one hours of this and then have a quick break and go for a walk"
- Set yourself rewards. It doesn't matter how tiny they are, but - atleast for me - they are effective: "When I finish this today I'll get a nice meal at my favorite restaurant".
- Set yourself a time limit. This goes more or less with the one above. Set yourself some time limit that you'll only work til something like 5pm and then enjoy your free time. It doesn't matter if you have finished your work today or not. Maybe it wasn't even possible to finish it in one day at the first place. Plus what helps me a lot is, if you don't finish your current task in time make a quick bullet list for your task for next day. Be realistic and start with super simple goals.
Another thing I add is accept five lines of code as an acceptable day of work. Because usually it leads to more, but if it's just one of those days, five lines is infinitely better than zero, and you are far more likely to get out of your rut tomorrow because it's a new starting point. Feeling bad about things just gets you into a writers block state and exacerbates the situation. If you have done five lines and know your brain is toast, don't feel bad about taking a mental break for the rest of the day.
> - Use the 15 minute rule to get started
I like to take this a step further, and I think I read it in a Brian Tracey book once. If I have a list of things that need doing that I am not especially excited about, I'll go through them doing five minutes max on each. This normally sufficiently unsticks each, but if it doesn't, then do a round of 10m on each.
> - Leave a currently solved code part partially done or leave a compile issue on the area you were working on
One way I handle this is by forcing myself to keep and update a "Next Work" list (in an outliner) that keeps a very current todo list for each project. Generally I'll update it each morning and break down the immediate next work into tasks that only take a minute or two to get that momentum going
> - Motivators and triggers
I'm only slightly ashamed to admit I make heavy use of:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6OwnNe9nMU (usually while walking, or very very first thing in the morning -- I downloaded the audio only)
and Apple's Think Different advert
I also really like writing out the answer to "What'll be different in a week's/month's time due to what you're about to do?"
> - Start the day right, work on something simple or one check in for instance before reddit/HN/news or distractions
Phone goes on airplane mode overnight, and comes out of airplane mode once I've completed my morning ritual, which takes about an hour and a half.
Yeah, no. How are people going to contact in case of an emergency?
I used to have a cheap but nice looking 20 min hourglass on my desk for just this reason. When I needed to get started on something, I just flip it and commit to working for just that amount of time. More often than not, before I know it, I only notice the hourglass empty when I'm on a roll with the task.
Inertia works both ways.
I'd also add, consider the day worthwhile if you just achieve one task. Do that for a few days and you'll find you can move on to 2 tasks, 3 tasks, etc quite easily.
I try and avoid this as I find my side-tasks far too interesting and distractive!
If I was struggling with those, I generally resolve them very quickly the next day. Subconscious, fresh brain, or both. I don't know, but it works for me.
Do yourself a huge favor and see a psych who specializes in ADHD. You might be undiagnosed, and treatment could make a significant difference in your life.
If you were smart enough to coast through schooling as a child, and have the inattentive-type ADHD, it's quite likely your ADHD was missed as a child. It's not something you "grow out of" as an adult.
Even if you aren't ready for the psych step yet (it took me years of suspecting I was ADHD before I took that leap), read up on Adult ADHD. If you see yourself in everything you read, see a psych. It's worth it, even just to know you're not "broken" you just have ADHD. Once you know, you can get treatment, and find strategies that work for your brain.
Does this sound like it could be an issue? I am on Kaiser and I hear they have a TERRIBLE program for psych stuff in general. I hear I would need family to be interviewed or asked if they feel I have issues which, again, they will just say Im lazy and have no problems. Is there a place I can identify a doctor in my area that is either reasonably priced or does not require visits frequently? Even a web based doctor that you visit infrequently?
This was high school for me. I would have weeks to finish a significant paper. I would inadvertently wait until the night before, stay up all night working on it, and generally I would get a good grade, often an A. It was like the time and effort I would have spent on it was concentrated into a single 12-hour rush where the deadline pressure squeezed my best efforts out of me.
At no point did I think "I should work on this paper, but, nah". In my head I was always getting around to it, but never did. Same was true for homework. I would be trying to finish first period's assignment on the school bus, next period's assignment in homeroom, another assignment in study hall, another assignment at lunch, etc. A lot of copying people's work.
Also I have crippling ADHD and can barely hold a job.
You're addicted to stress because it gives you enough stimulation to focus.
You keep yourself constantly busy to keep yourself stimulated enough for your brain to function.
You are distracted by things because your brain lacks the filter to determine which stimulus is "important" so instead of focusing on the actual important thing, everything feels like it's of equal importance, and your thoughts race from one thing to the next. I can't hear people correctly if there's a lot of other conversations going on at once, or too much visual noise in the background. It's overwhelming.
I saw a psychologist who specializes in ADHD. He did not interview my family (I was afraid of that too, my mom insists I can't possibly be ADHD because "I did so well in school."). He interviewed me about my history and symptoms going back to childhood, and I took a psychological profile test that involved ~400 true/false questions to rule out other problems. It was two visits to get my diagnosis, and now medication is in the hands of my regular physician. If Kaiser won't cover it, it might be worth paying out of pocket to get your diagnosis. Not very familiar with Kaiser, but hopefully once you were diagnosed, they would still cover your meds?
I think https://add.org/ has a page somewhere where you can search for professionals in your area. Or just call a psych, any psych, and ask for their recommendations on someone who specializes in ADD.
Was diagnosed with ADHD along with depression and anxiety. The doctor gave me a whole slew of resources to help with it all. It sounds silly but one of the things he advised was getting a guided meditation app for my phone and doing 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night. Changed my life almost overnight. I don't try and think about, "nothing". I just try to be aware of my thoughts and not to follow them. Almost immediately my mind became clearer.
I haven't actually dug into all the resources I was given (recent diagnosis) but hopefully they will be just as helpful.
I encourage everyone who have a racing mind or procrastination issues to see someone and get tested.
Cost $2-$3 I believe. I set it on 10 minutes and use music 3.
1. Would the value created by this task reduce over time? In other words, is it better to do this task today than in future?
2. Does the effort required by the task increase (or remain same), if delayed? In other words, is it easier for me to do this task today than in future?
Also, choosing not to do a task now and procrastinate can be a powerful and useful tactic.
The resistance to starting a task is geometrically proportional to the SIZE of the task.
So I try to break everything down into tasks that take no more than a few minutes. I wouldn't have tasks like "Write FooBar architecture document", but rather "Write FooBar intro", or "sketch connection diagram on paper" or "copy connection diagram to Visio/Draw.io".
> My solution was to approach a project by turning it into as many tiny steps as possible. That way I could get a few really easy wins under my belt. For example, each step would be a task such as "Search for ______ on Google" or "Have a conversation with ______." Crossing things off your to-do list gives your brain a happy little dopamine hit, even if the tasks are tiny—it keeps your motivation up and your excuses down.
I love coding and getting in flow state but it just seems much coding is too boring a process.
Could this be true? Or maybe I'm just a classic procrastinator on HN again.
If you were smart enough to coast through school despite your procrastination and attention issues, definitely go see a psych for an evaluation.
I find I'm the same way, but wouldn't characterize it as more quickly. I can work on something with little to show for it all day. Then I get tired, sit in bed with the laptop and it comes easily. I think this has contributed to me being a night owl, because I just get more done at night.
What helps me a lot in that case is to break the problem down into simpler pieces. Then the first piece doesn’t seem so bad, and then I’m rolling.
In reality our ideas about what we should be doing co-evolve with our feelings about doing those things.
Now, you might counter this argument by saying you were only able to do it because you "felt" like doing the experiment.
Here, we must acknowledge a distinction between wanting to do something and feeling like doing something. And a further distinction between different reasons for wanting, and the ways you think about those reasons (logical steps, assumptions, context).
That's exactly correct. Every action you took voluntarily was your choice.
You are always doing whatever you want to do. You may tell yourself many stories in your head, and we can dispute free will, but as long as we assume it for the purpose of this discussion, what you do is your choice.
So to me the biggest step in fighting procrastination seems to be deciding what do you really want to be doing with your life and eliminating wishful thinking (i.e. thinking that you can get foo without doing bar in case where that is not possible)
> You are always doing whatever you want to do. You may tell yourself many stories in your head, and we can dispute free will, but as long as we assume it for the purpose of this discussion, what you do is your choice.
I understand what you are getting at, and I agree with the basic fundamental idea within a certain context. However, we have to be careful with how we extrapolate and attempt to re-interpret words and phrases such as "choice", "want", "feel like doing [x]", "deciding" , and so on.
The part quoted above basically makes those words meaningless. Regardless of what one thinks about free will, those words have great utility and fulfill roles in the human experience for which there isn't really any replacement.
You yourself demonstrate this quite plainly in your last sentence, when you say we should "decide" what we really "want" to be doing with our life.
But yes it's just rephrasing. I explained myself in a bit more detail here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17524210
I guess I knew that already, but probably thanks to him and his intellectual descendants. Free will arguments have never really interested me...
What most people mean when they say "you can do something even if you don't feel like it" is "you can do something even if some other task sounds more appealing, even if inaction provides a refuge from the tension of engaging the task, even if you've been experiencing anhedonia for days/weeks."
There's something about spending time in an art gallery, a library or even taking a walk around the central business district of a major city checking out the more impressive buildings and absorbing the pace and atmosphere that seems to wake up what I would almost call a competitiveness (in the sense of "shit, all of these people are doing such amazing, focused, long-term and brilliant things. I should get back to work", but truly without any elements of self-pity that might be read into that if I don't spell it out) on top of the other more general inspiration which these things give me.
For whatever reason, it seems to be more effective if these works are outside of software development.
I have a note book, and I write timestamped logs into it as I go along. The emotions I feel when I take some extra time to do a tiny task because I got distracted by HN or something else is quite strong. I feel like this has had a very positive effect on self accountability. I can't bear to look at a log where it's written:
10:12 - Discovered that a file is missing locally. Which one is it? (extra note of file name)
10:14 - Going to check github to see if the file exists still and if not, when it got removed.
10:50 - (Insert expletive). Got distracted with Twitter. Back now. Checked file. It was removed in the last commit.
There are lots of other little elements I've included in my workflow like regular reflections and end of day planning for next day. But I feel like the physical logging activity is the element that actually makes it all work.
Happy to share more details on this workflow if anyone is interested. My build just finished so it's back to work before I become embarrassed by my log ;).
Edit - I was in a hurry to write this because of a build about to finish. I've got another build going and wanted to add that one other important effect of this process is forcing myself to think of the next step without the burden of keeping the previous contexts in my head. That's all written down so I can always pick up where I left off even in the case of an interruption.
11:47 - Alright. Time to implement the functionality to read the JWT token and store it and cache it for future requests.
11:52 - Test has been setup and is failing as expected. Let's pass this!
12:20 - Phew. Finally got that working. Making the function testable was a little harder than expected. Had trouble mocking the call to requests so that I don't actually get a token from the service for each test. Any way, that's done. Now I need to test if it actually works when running. How should I do that though?
12:26 - I have an idea! <there's be a flow chart diagram here and a bullet point list>
12:40 - NICE! It worked!
Does that help clarify how I might go about logging? I find that the flow doesn't come all that often and most tasks I'm working on requires me to pause and think often. And the maximum time of work to pause is usually 20-25 minutes.
When I am sleep deprived, I procrastinate a lot. When I get about 8 hours I don't.
So instead of tidying for 10 minutes, for example, you can tidy for the length of your favorite track - the timer will match the length of the video, the audio will play and the time will be logged. If you have routine tasks this turns out to be a pretty effective way of breezing through them.
How it looks: https://gfycat.com/HonoredHatefulIndianelephant
Apparently, there's even some research that shows that ambient music which isn't at a high volume level can boost creativity , and that it can also improve performance in performing repetitive tasks.
Edit: Also found a reference to a 2005 study which is said to show that music can increase performance in software developers. 
 Mehta, Ravi, et al. “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise On Creative Cognition.” Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 39, no. 4, 2012, pp. 784–799. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/665048.
Edit:  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0305735605050650
I especially like the explanation that taking a break to successfully complete some other straightforward task (e.g. sweeping the floor) creates dopamine which gives rise to more creative thinking which can help you reach a break through on the original task.
Who are you hurting by not doing the work?
I didn't really feel a lot of motivation to work on this feature before, because I had many other things to do. But once I started, I really got into it, and now I'm excited about launching it. It should make a huge difference to my company.
So, as the article suggest, the talking should be with regards to problems you have during a project, not so much your intentions to complete your tasks.
Thinking about what the future will be like when this task is done (and done properly) almost seems to bring some of the gratification/reward into the present.
That's what worked for me. I was terrible at procrastination until I took up running. Now I just apply the lesson I learned from running:
Every moment is a choice.
Start a timer and say "I'll finish this task in 30 minutes". It helps my brain skip the random "new tab twitter.com" behavior.
EDIT and now, an hour later, I can. Also weird.
Something else that works for me is letting go the guilt when I don't feel like something something (that's not urgent or time sensitive). If I'm not in the mood, I take a long break and allow myself to properly enjoy it without the guilt. This usually restores my motivation.
Somewhere else I read that someone did push-ups, squats or planks during breaks. That would be a great tip for me nowadays. Pushathons?
Is it really from fear?
I believe it comes from a basic human need for constant changes, or often called ‘news value’.
So, different people, different flavours of procrastination.
I often enjoy it even more then being accountable to a co-worker because it frees you to be a bit more honest with the challenges you’re facing and how you’re genuinely feeling.
When I was young I read a quote that basically said, "you aren't ever going to feel like it." This struck me immediately as true: given any list of tasks, basically, there is always a fraction you won't want to do or which some form of constructive procrastination will prevent you from doing _even if you are otherwise productive_. This realization has been incredibly helpful for me in my career.
Later on, years ago but years after I was already pretty senior, I ran into the blog that Robert Hodgin used to have where he made a point that just plotting the first pixel was the hardest part of any of his projects.
So .. plot the first pixel, write the first line of code, write the first sentence, do the first set of squats, walk down the driveway, ... forcing these simple first steps make it substantially easier to do the next steps.
TL;DR: the most valuable solution to getting things done when you don't feel like it is to _start_.
- break task in to tiny steps
- allocate time on calendar
- buddy up with someone
- Talk about it to others
- just relax and something else you want
This article is not deep study but just someone’s opinion.
it's harder for me to keep track of all my things to do, for work, home, etc, i've actually created a tool to use for this, there's an iphone app if anyone's interested:
What? That can't be true, are you sure?
The study doesn't say whether one thing causes the other.
This seems like a bit of a silly study to me. It would be incredibly difficult for anyone in the software sector to say they aren't multitasking considering what they consider to be multitasking. I would be willing to bet most people use some forms of that concurrently, whether it's dealing with emails while in a web meeting or listening to music while coding.
Sometimes I will listen to a podcast while doing a routine task.
Otherwise I don’t multitask at all, for at least 90% of my working hours.
Or checking and responding to emails while in the middle of fixing a bug?
Or managing texts from family members while doing whatever else on your PC?
For the others you bring up, I truly do not. I don’t text or email while I’m trying to do something productive.
* Almost all evidence shows multitasking is not actually possible
* Some evidence shows attempting to do so anyway results in IQ reduction and loss of ability to focus
* Some evidence shows this reduction lasts even after you are done
* Some evidence shows this reduction is due to permanent physiological changes in the brain
'Brain damage' might be going to far.
To anticipate an objection, I would agree that the competence of both tasks diminishes somewhat. However the overall competence of both is sufficient.
My brain also seems capable of detecting when more attention is required, and automatically stopping the lower priority task. For example, if I had to quickly merge across many lanes on a busy freeway, then I would likely cease conversation during that maneuver. I don’t have to think too much about this consciously. The brain understands that driving is paramount and it will automatically preempt anything lower priority when more cognitive attention is required.
I would be interested to know what the research says about phenomena like that. There must be research like this supporting aviation, space flight, and nautical activities.
It seems easiest to multitask across different modes, e.g., I can work with my hands or drive a car while listening to an audiobook. I can have a social conversation with friends over voice chat while playing a video game.
Maybe the degree to which you can multitask depends upon the type of task and to what extent your brain can perform it automatically. The rote tasks involved in driving for example require very little attention to perform safely and correctly.
Side note, Wikipedia claims you can multitask between tasks you are already highly proficient at.
Obviously the studies aren't definitive, but if they were and multitasking caused me to be less intelligent and less able to focus due to "permanent physiological changes in the brain", I would consider my brain to be damaged regardless of whether it meets the literal medical definition of brain damage.
But I get what you mean. We can only hope that permanent means permanent if you don't do anything to reverse it like being overweight.
I can however talk and type, but it's done in a way where I fill a mental register with the sentence I'm typing, switch focus whilst my hands operate on that register; then fill the register in a pause from the conversation. It's just rapid task switching for me except the typing. Probably took me a decade of touch typing to get there.
I'm also I've of those people who ends up writing down the conversation if I'm handwriting and conversing.
-- reflecting now when playing piano I'd try and fill a mental register with the forthcoming musical phrase whilst I switched to speaking. I think perhaps it didn't work because I struggle with rhythm and so need central focus to maintain any semblance of rhythm.
If you are playing one melody with your left hand on the piano and one with your right, is that one task or two?
Once internalized through experience, hand movements on piano (or computer) keyboard are subconscious. They don't tax your brain. Thinking about what you're playing/writing and why are you doing it is still within one "context of execution". They are closely related mental activities sharing most of the same data. Starting to simultaneously think about or engage in an unrelated, cognitively demanding activity - this is multitasking, or the so-called "context switch".
Would love to see some links, that's crazy!
& sometimes, it also depends on the type of work
If you have the discipline to do that, you have the discipline to complete the task.
Then you will be one who is in control, not the other way around.
But did you find the mirtazapine really does counteract any side effects of the atomoxetine that crop up?
Overall, the effects of atomoxetine (80 mg/day) are slight (IME) but helpful: reducing by an order or two the magnitude of tracks my mind wants to wander in.
CBD (10 mg 4x/day) has been the biggest help.
Also, I take heavy doses (~200 mg/day ER in the morning) of propranolol.
Mirtazapine (60 mg/day at night)
Clonidine (0.1 mg/day at night)
I would avoid SSRI's at all costs (Maslow's hierarchy of need habits optimization: exercise, sleep, diet, caffeine (which is a mild anticholinergic) elimination, CBT, regular socializing, etc.) because the vestibular and discontinuation side-effects are horrendous and possibly permanently-damaging.