Shannon and I have written some posts about interruption science, a fascinating new field of study where the work we perform on computers, and specifically how we react when we’re interrupted while using a computer is analyzed in an effort to better understand how to become more productive. IM’s, e-mails, phone calls, people showing up in your office, and kids trying to get your attention, the dog whining at the door are all examples of interruptions that can get you off track from the task at hand.
Key in the articles we’ve read is the element of interruptions that we inflict on ourselves, and the ones we go seeking. Experts point out that there are more and more interruption junkies emerging in our information society and that a certain amount of that is natural and healthy. One of the joys of smoking is the smoking break – a structured mind break that helps clear the mind and separate one mental stream from the next. When I still smoked cigars I found that taking my smoke break allowed me to put things in perspective and better see the big picture. The key of studying all this I guess is to sort out what we think of as useful interruptions and avoidable and unproductive interruptions.
Why am I writing this? Mostly because I’m trying to pay attention to my own work style. In a typical day I find myself jumping around between watching the kids, writing stories for our blogs, researching, making lists of things I need to do, running errands, exercising, eating, thinking about myriad topics, and interacting with my family and friends. But what about when I’m just working alone (not that this happens very often). I find that when I’m just working alone with NO ONE to interrupt me, that I move pretty quickly between vastly different subjects and activities on my computer. The good side is that I gain a sense of perspective and possibility. On the other hand I don’t complete tasks very efficiently because I’m just taking in bits of data and letting that lead me to the next think that I read, write or act on. I started out working on my computer at 6AM this morning and it’s now 8:20AM. Over two hours of largely uninterrupted quality time with myself. What have I accomplished? I’ve begun writing a hypothetical forward thinking article for EXCELER8ion. I have no idea how long it will take to finish but it has the potential to be good. I have researched a lot of information because of that article such as The Semantic Web, also known as web 3.0. Just now, I remembered that I had to find a way to tape record my phone interview for by blog about hurricane protection. I also had that thought 10 minutes ago because Shannon called me to let me know that she arrived safely in Tampa. She was thinking about how I could work around watching the kids and interviewing an engineer tomorrow morning for a hurricane post I’m writing. This reminded me that I have a task on my to-do list to find the method or tool I’ll use tomorrow to record that interview. During our call this caused me to open up a browser tab and type in a key word search about recording phone calls but I just left the browser tab open as a reminder. This caused me to want to document a story about interruption science on my personal blog julians.name. When Shannon’s call came in, the source of my original interruption, I was writing that EXCELER8ion article on the future of web recruiting. Now John just woke up. He’s eating last night’s popcorn at 8:26AM because if I argue with him about eating a proper breakfast at this very moment I won’t get this post done and I’ll be further behind on all the ‘stuff’ that I need to do today.
I want to find the best way to work efficiently because like everyone else in this information society I have just so much time in each day. I need to be able to research and write way more content than I currently produce in a shorter period of time and it can’t just be junk. I can’t loose quality. I need to improve how I care for the kids at the same time. I need to keep this house in order because it comes apart at the seems in less than one hour.Â I really need to improve my writing quality while also dramatically reducing the time it takes to produce stories. I have eight blogs to produce content for and if I use a best practice of publishing 2-3 posts a day on each blog that’s 24-36 posts a day. I’m currently able to produce 1-2 on average. That’s a big delta. That means I’m going to keep studying how to be more efficient and how to ACT more productively. Wish me luck. It’s a laugher eh?