The following is an article I found from the blog, http://www.pr-squared.com/
This blog is entitled, “Interruptions are evil” and having just got over mid-terms, I can totally vouch for this! I am always bombarded in work! I mean, I have: 6 classes; I live at home with and take care of my 94 year old Nana (g-ma); one of my classes is aerobics that I have 2/wk and I have an additional ten 1hr cardio classes I have to take; I bike to and from campus anywhere from 2-5 times EVERYDAY; I practically live with my best friend when I am on campus, so when I crash her place I gotta take the dog (miss mattie-fat-fat) on walks/runs….I mean I am just constantly exhausted! So obviously, when it does come time to work, all I can think about is how much I have to do, instead of focusing on the actual thing I need to be accomplishing.
Sooooo…..that is why I made this PR Connection on interruptions. Besides just the daily life stresses causes interruptions in your thoughts or abilities to accomplish tasks, you also have to consider other, up and coming factors- like technology. The internet, cell phones and ipods, already have us constantly connected, but may they also have us constantly distracted? Take a look at this article and see what you think!
“Interruptions are evil. Interruptions are unproductive. I have closed my email account (and my door), turned off the Twitter feed, logged out of Facebook, logged out of IM, and silenced my phone, just so I could write a few hundred words about the scandalous amount of time absorbed by these distractions.
This is not a Luddite rant. I love technology, love my email and Twitter and all that jazz. But let’s face it, very few of these communications tools could rightfully be called productivity boosters. They are important but when we need to focus — on writing an important document, on studying, on a conversation — the beeps, rings, and pop-ups are fizzing away at our attention.
I brought this up in a staff meeting a couple of weeks ago. I referenced the 2005 UC Irvine study that found:
“(Information) workers at an outsourcing company spent an average of 11 minutes on a project or task before they were interrupted. Once diverted, it took them 25 minutes to return to the original task.”
I acknowledged the attraction of being always-on. Even Linda Stone, who coined the term “Continuous Partial Attention,” called out this craving for connectivity:
“To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention — CONTINUOUSLY. It is motivated by a desire to be a LIVE node on the network … We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter.”
In other words, I embraced the impulse but also laid out a logical argument for checking email 3X a day, turning off IM unless you needed it, turning off the Outlook Alerts and TweetDeck pop-ups, staying logged out of Facebook to avoid impromptu chats with high school friends, etc.
They looked at me as if I had three heads. (Sigh.)
You’re not multitasking when you open yourself up to constant distractions. You are merely working inefficiently.
Multitasking suggests doing several things simultaneously — but when the Tweet Alert or Email Alert or IM window pops up, that’s not multitasking: you’re either going to check/respond or you’re going to continue on-task… if you are going to check/respond, you’re temporarily halting your current work; if you’re going to continue on-task, which you probably should, why would you allow yourself to be so easily distracted in the first place?
I’ll ask you to engage in the same experiment I suggested to our staff.
- Turn off ALL alerts for IM, Twitter, email, Skype, etc.
- Set aside 3 blocks of time to check/respond to email; say, 9 – 9:30am, 12:15 – 1pm, and 4 – 5pm.
- Use Twitter, IM, Facebook, etc. in single-purpose mode, i.e., use the tools uninterrupted, and when you’re done, be done. Let’s be generous and say that “engagement block” takes up 2 hours of your day — you social butterfly, you.
So that’s 2 hours, 15 minutes for email; 2 hours for Social Media engagement. Assuming an 8–hour day (ha!), that leaves 3 hours & 45 minutes for “heavy lifting” – assignments including writing, research, meetings, etc.
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Yet we all feel so harried all day! Maybe it’s because we’re trying to do all these things simultaneously, a little bit at a time; we get frustrated that we don’t seem to do any of it as superbly as we used to.
If this post resonates with you at all, try the experiment for 1 week. See if it makes a difference in your focus, results, energy, and job satisfaction.
Looking forward to hearing about how you do! Do you have any other tips, lifehackers?