October 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm #142906
Have we been conditioned to come running whenever we hear a ping, see a light blinking, or see an email notification pop-up? The problem with this is that when we are continuously interrupted, we move into something called “switching time” – – that is, continuously moving between tasks. When you constantly shift your focus from one thing to another, you increase your time to finish the first task by 25% (Source = Time, The Multitasking Generation).
How do you manage this? When I need to focus on something, I simply shut off my email. If someone really needs me, I rely on them to call me.
October 5, 2011 at 3:18 pm #142930
October 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm #142928
This is really interesting. It’s hard for me to focus energy on one thing, so I need constant interruption.
October 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm #142926
I have been wondering about this very same question recently. I heard a report that recently that for the most part, we are not successful multi-taskers. While we may think that we are getting “so much” done because we are involved in multiple tasks at once, the research shows that we are not that good at it (sorry I can’t remember the source for the research).
So as I sit at my desk and watch the email alert go off, hear my iPhone jingle with a new message, and work admidst the busy environment of life, I wonder if I should start turning off or tuning out outside stimuli that are interrupters to my goal of “getting the job done really well and right”. I have a hard time letting the phone go to voice mail–can’t stand to see the red light blinking–even if I know that the call is not one that I am excited to receive. I know that if I don’t pick up the phone now, returning the call goes on my “to-do”list. If I see an email come in, I try to focus away from the email and back to my task, but again, I know that I have a “to-do list” growing with each “ping”.
However, if what you say is true, I could still accomplish everything quicker and more efficiently by focusing on the task at hand and compartmentalizing when to check in on the individual “to-do lists” created by voice mail and email and all of the other media that connects us all so well.
I’m going to try an experiment and see. Now, I am in Business Development so every call or response email could be a closer step to speaking with a decision maker (hate to miss or postpone that opportunity)–so this is going to be a challenge to undo my natural “jump to attention” that I have honed in my years of sales. I’m probably going to need a Drool Bucket (memories from a very old SNL skit come to mind).
October 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm #142924
I’ve turned off my email notifications on Outlook and cut most of my smart phone notifications. Still, focus has always been hard for me. I’ve vowed to implement the Pomodoro Technique, but the discipline to keep at it has failed.
October 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm #142922
I totally agree. I’ve found that whenever I need to focus, I put my cell phone on silent and literally flip it over (in order to avoid seeing that annoying blinking read Blackberry light).
Also, my settings are always set to silent whenever I receive emails and BBMs to my phone. I let the notification for texts go off, but if my phone beeped every time I got a BBM or email it’d be squawking at me all day, and I’d get nothing done!
October 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm #142920
Stacy L. CarpenterParticipant
In a prior workplace that had an open space plan, I intentionally curbed natural, frequent, driveby “I have a quick question” behaviors by implementing Rabbit. Rabbit was a small stuffed rabbit that sat on top of the monitor. The rules were simple: When Rabbit was on top of the monitor, I was available for emails/quick questions. When Rabbit was on the corner of the desk, I would not interact with anyone/anything for any reason as I was focused on an important task. Both of Rabbit’s spots were visible to passersby, so colleagues could assess quickly and quietly of my availability.
When Rabbit went back up to the monitor, colleagues were welcome to interrupt as usual…and did. At first it seemed odd to some (a stuffed animal intentionally utilized as a management tool at a conservative engineering firm) but very shortly, Rabbit was respected. Managers/co-workers would ask,”Is Rabbit Up or Down?” as a method of checking if there was time to talk about something unscheduled.
In short, Rabbit curbed the behaviors of others, allowing for higher productivity and better work quality…all without requiring my direct involvement.
October 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm #142918
I agree. To those individuals who own mobile devices that receive email and reads them while you are conversing with them, it is on the verge of being rude.
October 7, 2011 at 2:17 am #142916
I have literally seen people turn away from conversations to respond to the e-mail ding…and even worse, one time this person evidently decided that answering an e-mail was more important than me – standing in front of his desk – and he turned around, mid sentence, and started composing the reply.
To this day I have not much respect for the man that so openly disses a ‘real’ person in favor of an e-mail. the least he could have done was say ‘i’m sorry, i need to handle this’
I have my phone, and it’s a tool, not a toy. Regularly, I get maybe half an hour’s worth of calls a month. I text to maybe 3-4 people total, so don’t get many of those…and there are definitely times to look at it and go ‘it can wait’. I will see e-mails come in (I run my computer ‘silent’ so there’s no noise) and some I’ll look at, others can sit until I have time)
I see people carry on phone conversations at the drive thru window, during business transactions, during lunch and….yes, some are slaves to that machine. It is like the machine owns them and they seem to place their importance in the world with how much they talk or how ‘wanted’ they are. With some its like ‘the more e-mails i must answer then the more vital I am’. There have been a few inappropriate jokes made about the size of one’s inbox compensating for……fill in the blank 😉
When I’m working, sometimes I need distraction. If i’m doing something creative, sometimes I need to do a little recreational surfing, or take a break, step away, etc. Other times ‘leave me alone and let me concentrate’ (and i’ve literally told fellow workers that….take your conversation elsewhere I need to get this done’…and I’d expect them to do the same if I were distracting them). I have never needed a ‘door’ or the cute ‘bunny of doom’, but I do know that there are offices in my building where people have a little piece of yellow ‘crime scene tape’….when it’s across the cube opening, leave them be. If it’s not, come on in.
I had a co-worker who brought her child to work, she finally had to hang a sign ‘the baby is sleeping, please e-mail me’, to get others to leave her be, leave the baby be, and let her work (and the baby sleep).
October 7, 2011 at 2:30 am #142914
James E. Evans, MISM, CSMParticipant
Well, I’m guilty as charged. If my EVO shakes, rattles or rolls; I respond. To mitigate this, I do custom notifications. Only certain parties get to ring or vibrate. Others go to a custom voice-mail; complete with promises to callback at my earliest.
October 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm #142912
Multi-tasking is just a nice way to say Professional Attention Deficit Disorder. What used to be an encouraged ability to juggle multiple priorities has become a technology enabled disruption that is counter-productive.
October 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm #142910
I ignore distractions, turn my phone ringer off, turn my computer sound off, etc.
I’m with Stacy is “teaching people how to treat you” but would give each employee a hopefully self explanatory stop sign to hang when they didn’t want to be distrubed.
October 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm #142908
An extreme measure to stop distraction!
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