Nov 30, 2010

How to prevent interruptions in workplaces

I watched recently Ted talk from Jason Fried. He is the author of Rework I read lately. Jason talked about why work is not done in the work places, but rather in almost anywhere else.

His main point is interruptions. He identifies two types of interactions. Un-voluntary interruptions (or distractions like he calls those), when someone or something else interrupt you without you having possibility to affect on it. And users voluntary interruptions, like reading mail, checking FB or going to grab coffee. He makes a valid point here. When you check your mail, it's your decision, when someone comes to talk to you, it's not.

He blames meetings and managers on these interruptions. I tend to think good on people. I don't believe managers and others are interrupting people by plain evil. Also I think meeting organisers often do think their meeting has a meaning. And often these interruptions, managers or meetings do have a value. The problem is more on the timing and the actual interrupting. So what could we do.

Jason had already couple of ideas you can listen, but I'll bring couple of my own. Maybe some meetings could be kept as a chat type of a thing. Someone is typing in a stream and others have the possibility to participate when they want. It could be for example announced, that during this 4 hour window, this chatroom is dedicated to this subject. Feel free to join to discuss or read the stream later.

Other idea is to have an actual traffic lights next to your desk. Available and Do Not Disturb. Those do require environment, where you can say to your boss and colleagues, that I know what is important, let me do my job.

Maybe the main thing still is to recognizing this on your workplace. Are people interrupting each other. Are people doing things that require concentration and takes some time to really get back to the mood again. If yes, then talking about this will definitely be the first step.

If you have any good ideas and expertise on this area, it would be nice to know more.

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