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Stop. Interrupting. My. Flow.

Posted on February 14, 2005 by Sarah Eaton.

"Deep thought for a half-hour? Boy, that's hard," Mr. Hecker said. "Does anyone ever really have deep thoughts for half an hour anymore?"

Personally, I sometimes like interruptions. 

For example: I had this post all written, and then an email notification popped up in my lower right corner with a request from a co-worker.  So I went off in a totally different direction for a while, came back and read the post again. 

And realized it was unbelievably boring.  So I erased it and started over.

I like to know as soon as I can if something has come up that needs my immediate attention.  But there are times when I'm flowing along and--pop--I receive a message from a client with a list of questions.  I keep writing, but now I'm thinking about the client's questions instead.

It's like my brain is cleaved in two--is it better to just break away from the task at hand and answer the questions, or should I just let the presence of the questions fade away until I'm done with my current project?

I suppose I could always turn off the auto-notifier, but then I wouldn't have the option of distraction.  Hmm.  Maybe this goes a little deeper than I thought.

Anyway, there are other people thinking about this, too, people with the capability to make a program to detect when the user is in a state of flow.

Check out this article from the NY Times.

February 14, 2005 in award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, company blog, company magazine, company newsletter, corporate magazine | Permalink


I know the story all too well of sitting down with all the resources one could need to work a full 5 hours. But those 5 hours turn into 6 or 7 with all the distractions one can face, even sitting at the library or in a quiet computer lab.

Im not sure if it is what the NY Times article likes to call it, pseudo-A.D.D., but it is definitely a problem common to all.

When it comes down to either 1) staying on course with the first task as to not decrease your built momentum, though the new task refuses to leave the back of your mind, or 2) deciding to move on to the new train of action and eventually coming back to the old task, i would have to go with the second choice.

Yes, we all have many things to do. But as professionals, it is important to know how to multitask and prioritize in order to get as much done as possible.

In addition, Sarah does have a good point that a change of direction, from a single focus, is a good practice. It helps maintain a level-head and enables one to step outside our original point of view and address our work as a third-person.

Posted by: Kevin | Feb 25, 2005 1:46:24 PM

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