Posts Tagged 'interruptions'

The conflict between being productive and being available

Posted on October 11th, 2015 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

The conflict In my business of helping companies solve information overload,  I get to interview many managers and employees about their communication habits. This brings to light interesting observations. I was talking to an employee in a hi-tech company and he raised a problem: he was actually quite self-aware about the importance of focusing on his work without the extreme productivity hit of interruptions, so he kept his cellphone in silent mode. Smart move! Smart move? Not necessarily. It threw him into the heart of a conflict many knowledge workers grapple with. You see, his peers and his supervisor would.. Read more

When Cultures Clash: Open Door Policy vs. Information Overload

Posted on October 29th, 2014 · Posted in Organizational Solutions

The causes of Information Overload are always tightly intertwined with organizational culture, so it is small wonder that solving the first requires messing with the second… and there are times when my work to help organizations mitigate information overload runs into apparent conflicts with existing cultural values. When that happens, we must tread carefully! One such case is the contradiction with the Open Door policy that is quite common in progressive organizations in the western world. The conflict The basic idea of Open Door is that managers are available to their subordinates whenever the latter feel they have something to.. Read more

The two Faces of Anytime, Anywhere

Posted on February 14th, 2014 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Individual Solutions, Organizational Solutions

A cool idea (or so we thought) … It really did sound like a great concept at the time: Work Anytime, Anywhere! Catchy slogans like that always sound good, like Andy Grove’s prediction in the nineties of “Free MIPS, Free Bauds” (which is pretty close to reality by now). And the concept of being able to do your work from anywhere as if you were in the office, and at any time of your choosing rather than 9-to-5, seemed particularly cool – so liberating and exhilarating! We in IT were certainly delivering the capability. Admittedly secure remote access was a.. Read more

Finally! a Big Button to End Workday Interruptions!

Posted on October 7th, 2013 · Posted in Individual Solutions

A much needed button The need is hardly new. If you’re like every knowledge worker on the planet, you’ve been suffering for years from the incessant inflow of interruptions (one every three minutes on average, research shows) that chop your workday into tiny fragments. The outcome is “Continuous Partial Attention”, and the cost to productivity has been described in detail in my series of insight articles about the effects of information overload. Closing your office door won’t solve this problem. First, because many offices don’t have doors in this day and age – and if they had, there’d still be.. Read more

NIZ and NIW: Warding Off Dangerous Workplace Interruptions

Posted on September 27th, 2013 · Posted in Organizational Solutions

Workplace interruptions can kill. No Interruption Zone around amedication cart in an ICU  (Source) We’re so used to them that we forget how the incessant disruptions caused by phones, BlackBerries, incoming mails, and coworkers popping in for “just a quick question” are wreaking havoc on our ability to focus and think, with dire results for our productivity and creativity. The problem becomes outright fatal in critical work environments where lack of focus can lead to life threatening mistakes: distracting people like medical staff, airline pilots, or flight controllers can definitely lead to disaster. Then again, even where danger to life is.. Read more

BrainYno: the Ultimate Solution to Information Overload?

Posted on June 5th, 2013 · Posted in Individual Solutions

The holy grail of Information Overload solutions Interruptions are a major component of Information Overload (indeed, they cause more harm than the rightly reviled second component, email overload, as I’d shown here). However, we’ve known for years that not all interruptions are created equal: the damage depends on the context. An unrelated phone call while you’re taking an exam certainly does more harm than one when you’re slouching in front of the TV. Microsoft Research had developed a wonderful application some years ago called Priorities, which looks at every aspect of a knowledge worker’s attentional context to determine whether to.. Read more

How to Secure the Isolation You Need to Be Effective

Posted on April 10th, 2013 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Individual Solutions

The acclaimed American novelist Jonathan Franzen has an unusual way of ensuring he can concentrate and be creative. To quote the NY Times: Some days, Jonathan Franzen wrote in the dark. He did so in a Spartan studio … behind soundproof walls and a window of double-paned glass. The blinds were drawn. The lights were off. And Franzen … wore earplugs, earmuffs and a blindfold. Kudos to the Franzen for being a touch typist, but here I want to focus on his statement: “It’s very, very hard to concentrate. You have to hold your mind free of all the clichés”… Read more

How You Can Deploy “Quiet Time” to Increase Your Group’s Productivity

Posted on December 13th, 2012 · Posted in Individual Solutions, Organizational Solutions

When I speak to knowledge workers about solving information overload, I mention some fairly hi-tech solutions: software products that prevent, reduce or help combat the infoglut they all struggle with. And while those are useful, some of the most effective solutions are entirely lo-tech. I already wrote here about No Email Day; let me now tell you about the solution called Quiet Time. How to disconnect and (maybe) win a Nobel prize As everyone knows, William Shockley won a Nobel Prize  as one of the team that invented the Point Contact Transistor at Bell Labs. As many don’t know, he.. Read more

The early bird and information overload

Posted on June 5th, 2012 · Posted in Individual Solutions

Over the years I noticed a solution that some diligent people apply to get over info overload and interruptions: they start their workday (at home or even in the office) an hour or more before the usual “Nine to Five”. Showing up at the office at 6 or 7 AM gives them an hour or two of total quiet, when they can concentrate on their work. In a sense they sacrifice sleep time to get onto a time machine and jump to that gentler age when people actually worked, without the rude interruptions of our Blackberry era. It’s a satisfying.. Read more

How to make programmers efficient

Posted on May 6th, 2012 · Posted in Organizational Solutions

I was talking to a manager of IT systems in a financial organization, and she told me of an impressive step she’d taken to improve effectiveness. She had a group of programmers working for her, and they were suffering – as do we all – from frequent interruptions. So she removed the (landline) telephones from their rooms! She also made it known that these people were not to be interrupted by other means, and thereby allowed them to do what they were there for – write code. The results were very evident: efficiency in this team had visibly improved relative.. Read more