Task surfing, which is to say not multitasking, with github

The phrase "task surfing" came to me, and I'm trying to figure out what it means.

The searches I run for the phrase make it sound like other people think it's multitasking, but my experience is that I don't multitask. My screen generally has one window opened up full to whatever I'm working on, and I try to keep extraneousl notifications and other distractions hidden away. So it's not that.

What I think it might mean is working with my todo list – which is currently in a github issue tracker – and approaching it in an associative fashion rather than going strictly linearly through it. The goal is to make progress on a variety of things, but not necessarily to work down one long deterministic ordered list. I've organized my github list so that pretty much everything has a tag or two, and thus I can turn a 100-long list into a 10-long list and crunch through it without it feeling infinite.

Ideally you find yourself in a situation where there are a few easy things that have been languishing for a while that right now you just know that you can do, so you get up from your computer and you do them. This works especially well when you've salted away some easy, but not for now tasks into the list so that they can get done at some impromptu opportune moment.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this approach to self-tasking is related to the concept of structured procrastination. My 2005 self had the idea that it was good to write things down that you weren't ready to do just yet, so that you could randomly (!) generate suggestions that would be productive when you had some down time that you weren't ready to focus on the big things.

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