Cool Article on Office Interruptions

There's a neat article on the New York Times website (Meet the Life Hackers by Clive Thompson) that discusses the effects of interruptions at the office and how it affects productivity.   When I've discussed this with friends in the past, it was always described as "context switching" as opposed to interruptions.  I personally differentiate them like so:  An interruption is an IM, an e-mail, a phone call, or someone dropping by the office.  A context switch is stopping what you're working on, and "shifting the brain" into a new gear to work on a different project.

Interruptions are almost always up to the individual to control.  As Josh points out in his post 5 Tips for Being Successful at Microsoft, just turn off the e-mail or IM notifications.  Allow yourself to get and stay focused on a task.

Context switching, though, is harder to control.  Most of us juggle multiple complex projects -- the more complex the project, the harder it is to start up.  For me, context switching is the most difficult to manage due to staggered meetings.  While every week is a bit different, my schedule often looks like the image to the left.

Aside from the all day task Thursday (which wasn't really a meeting), there's only about 15 hours of meetings.  But when you consider travel time for some meetings (hey, it's a big campus!), prep time, meals, etc., that's more than 20 hours.  It's a challenge to stay focused on tasks.  (I'm reminded of Kai Krause's expression, "I think ... there ... 4am!" -- implying that cool state of mind that comes in the middle of the night and before you even know it (because it's devoid of distraction), it's 4 in the morning.)

I've always been a huge fan of using multiple monitors, and one interesting aspect of the article was the study of multiple monitors on productivity.  According to research, the subjects were able to finish tasks 10 to 44 percent quicker using two or more monitors.  If that's not enough incentive to have your boss buy a few $300 flat panel screens for your desk, I don't know what would be.
Comments are closed

My Apps

Dark Skies Astrophotography Journal Vol 1 Explore The Moon
Mars Explorer Moons of Jupiter Messier Object Explorer
Brew Finder Earthquake Explorer Venus Explorer  

My Worldmap

Month List