Parallel Tracks (Day 539)

A frequently encountered scenario: if you have two equally important tasks that you need to finish in two weeks. Would you dedicate a week on the first task and then work on the second task the week after?

Maybe it is trivial when these are 1-day tasks--due to the cost of context switching, we are more likely to spend a day on each.

But for two week-long projects, how would you break them down?

Suppose it's learning two different topics. According to the neuroscience recommendation, it's better to split them up half a day, then do the spaced repetition, and maybe do exercises in between and then teach others about the topic to strengthen the understanding.

But for development, it is harder to decide. From my experience, I'd choose to start working on one task on the first day and then the second task on the second day--there will always be questions regarding the requirements in the beginning, no matter how thoroughly documented. And then, there are dependency and resource planning issues that could come up. Starting both tasks early would allow turnaround time, so can focus on one task if there's a need to wait for clarification or other resources on the other task.

Afterward, we can also take a page from the computing scheduling playbook. I tend to prefer the "shortest job first" approach. I'd also like to take on the less difficult task first, so at least there will be one task finished on time--getting stuck on difficult tasks would likely cause panic and affect productivity.

What is your best practice in dealing with this?

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