One of the great journalists, Clive Thompson has written a good piece on interruptions we faced at work. This is a serious issue for us at work, especially there are different sort of ways on distracting us – your computer, mobile phone, PDA, your colleagues, your boss… Think about when you need to tackle a bigger project – you really need a good block of time to do it. The article mentions when you are distracted from a task, in average a worker need 25 minutes to return to a task. After that worker only spends around 11 minutes on project before another interruption kicks in:
… When Mark crunched the data, a picture of 21st-century office work emerged that was, she says, “far worse than I could ever have imagined.” Each employee spent only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted and whisked off to do something else. What’s more, each 11-minute project was itself fragmented into even shorter three-minute tasks, like answering e-mail messages, reading a Web page or working on a spreadsheet. And each time a worker was distracted from a task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task. To perform an office job today, it seems, your attention must skip like a stone across water all day long, touching down only periodically…
With this figure, for 8 hours work time, work out there are only roughly 2 hours (8 * 60 / (11+25) * 11) on quality project time. Think about this figure verse the rest of 6 hours. Wouldn’t you want to improve this? (Yup, that’s why you are reading this site.)
The article then goes on and Clive interviewed many great people and talks about the movements on solving interruptions. For instance, he interviewed Microsoft researchers on interruption and UI design.
Hat tips to Venki for forwarding this URL.
Meet the Life Hackers – [New York Times]