Tagged With interruptions

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It's important to pull yourself away from work every now and then. Breaks are one thing, but distractions are another. Breaks are focused and deliberate. Distractions catch you off guard and derail your task entirely. In fact, one study shows it takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after you've been interrupted.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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We're not here to judge your distractions: day dreaming, flash games, hovering bosses, whatever it is that steers you off course. But we're wondering how you physically or mentally keep your focus-grabbers at bay, without clever software. In case you just arrived here from Google, you should know Lifehacker is obsessed with software that helps you get things done. But today we want to hear about what you do at your desk, whether at home or in the office, to keep the big distractions out of mind. Do you arrange your seating and workspace to minimize stop-and-chats from co-workers? Time your coffee breaks to coordinate with a distracting supervisor's movement patterns? What tools or techniques have you used to focus, fence off, and otherwise conserve those precious minutes in your day? Share the wealth in the comments below. Photo by dougwood.

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Productivity consultant Jared Goralnick offers ten reasons why your phone shouldn't automatically notify you the moment you receive a new email message—like protecting your sanity, for one. Some phone email clients (like Gmail Mobile for Java-based phones) require that you start them up to check your mail; other devices like the Blackberry check automatically and notify you the moment a new message lands in your inbox. It may seem convenient to have your phone auto-check email, but do the constant interruptions actually save you time? After the jump, tell us how you like email on your phone—pushed to you on the fly or only there when you check.

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A big part of staying productive at work involves making conscious decisions about when you're focusing on a task to the exclusion of everything else and when you're open to interruptions. Author Tim Ferriss interviewed me recently about my bi-modal work style, which can apply to anyone who's online and at a computer all day long:

Basically, I've got two modes of work: loose/open, and focused/closed. When I'm in "open" mode, my instant messenger status is set to available, I'm surfing, writing, checking email, coding, listening to music with lyrics—getting things done, but in a multitasking way, open to interruptions and tangents.

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Constant phone interruptions can break up even the most dedicated workflow. However, you can solve this by setting aside a specific time each day to return and make your calls. Productivity blogger John Cox has more:

Folks will leave you messages. Return those messages at a set time. Try to say between 10AM and 11AM in the morning and 2PM and 3PM in the afternoon is the time that I call people back. Not before, not after. I suppose there could always be exceptions to the rule due to emergencies, but to be honest with you, I haven't had to make the exception. The only reason that folks expect an immediate return call is because we train them into that behavior.

I've had to do this since I started working exclusively from home, and it's cut my distractions down pretty drastically. If you've set aside a specific phone time, please share in the comments how this is working (or not working) for you.

7 Habits