What Is It?
The Leapfrog Technique is a productivity booster that lets you reduce downtime by working on tasks in alternate succession.
How Does It Work?
Let’s say for example that you have three tasks which you need to complete: Task A, Task B, and Task C. For now, let’s suppose they all have the same priority and deadline. (Priority weighting is covered further below).
Tip: With the tasks all being equally important I would recommend to begin with the task that appeals to you the most. The most fun — or the least boring — one. Getting the ball rolling is a crucial step, so use any advantages (even if slight) to help boost your initial motivation.
Let’s say that you begin with Task A. After working on the task for a while, you may find that you hit a wall or your progression slows down.
This could for example be due to:
Downtime such as waiting for a reply to an email or verbal feedback with necessary information to continue.
Sending a render to the render farm and waiting for it to complete.
Emotional dread of continuing to do something tedious.
— Or, anything else that causes the task to grind to a halt.
If this happens, then you temporarily stop spending time on your current task and immediately start working on the next task on your list. In the leapfrog metaphor, the current task actively bends down and lets the next task spring into action.
Let’s say the next task is Task B. With a fresh spring in your step due to the novelty of starting on this new task, your productivity tends to rise again. You leap forward, taking advantage of the downtime on Task A.
By the time you either finish Task B or again hit a wall, you bend down that task and pursue one of two options:
Either, enough time has passed and you are now ready to return to Task A:
Whatever delay there was may be over by now.
Your subconscious mind has been quietly working on the problem in the background, and an idea for continuing the work has emerged.
The friction to work on the task has eased in some way.
If so, then loop back to Task A and leap forward again.
Or, Task A is still blocked in some way:
If so, then keep both Task A and Task B bent down, and spring Task C into action.
Rinse and repeat the cycle, and as you finish tasks, line up new ones and keep leapfrogging.
Tip: The Leapfrog Technique can scale to any number of tasks, however 2-5 tasks is usually a good number to aim for to avoid diluting your efforts.
If your tasks have different priorities or deadlines then the same method applies. However, you would obviously start with the most important task first, followed by the second and third priorities. You would also much more heavily rely on, and more frequently prod, Option 1 in Step 3 above.
Why Does It Benefit You?
The Leapfrog Technique helps you become more productive in four ways:
It keeps you active and engaged with your tasks — continuously moving forward and making progress. Working on tasks in alternate succession naturally keeps your momentum up. Conversely, stopping up and waiting in between tasks means that it will take more work and more willpower to overcome the inertia and start again.
It helps you stop doing unproductive things during (what doesn't need to be) downtime, e.g. spending half an hour on social media while waiting for an email reply. Allowing yourself to get distracted in this way ends up delaying your work for longer than necessary. That half an hour would have been prime time to spend progressing another task. Distraction.
Progress is a great motivator and you get an energy boost/dopamine hit by finishing a task. This in turn makes you want to continue to work and keep the ball rolling because you feel good about it.
The technique turns procrastination into productive procrastination. Sometimes it can be hard to muster the discipline to work on a particular task — even if you know all the steps that you need to take in order to complete it. (And there is nothing else hindering you). Especially when the next steps are boring or tedious. Temporarily switching over to working on your next task instead makes your procrastination productive, and lets you return to the first task later on with fresh eyes.
Tip: Keep in mind that successfully completing tasks is very satisfying and slightly addictive in a way, even more so when you are on a roll. Do remember to take breaks. Your mind and body need to rest regularly.
I hope The Leapfrog Technique will be useful to you. For more productivity tips, see Productivity.