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Monday
Jun302008

Distractions

In today's SmartBrief, there is a link to a post on the NY Times Shifting Careers blog. Author Maggie Jackson writes about how distracted we have all become in the Information Age. Here are a couple interesting facts:

Interruptions and the requisite recovery time now consume 28 percent of a worker’s day, the business research firm Basex estimates. The risks are clear.

Employees who are routinely interrupted and lack time to focus are more apt to feel frustrated, pressured and stressed, according to separate studies by [Gloria] Mark and the Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit group.

There are no big surprises here, but the quantification of these phenomena are still remarkable. I am not so sure about the attempt to draw an analogy with the "planet focus" terminology, but there are some good observations and suggestions here.

My greatest career battle is an ever-diminishing sense of accomplishment. Even the most mundane tasks like managing my to-do list (now at 128 items) or listening to voice mail (43 last time I checked) have become huge challenges. I now receive 200+ emails per day, not including spam. Overload is real; it's not a pop culture complaint.

I suspect that the root cause of much of this pain is the distraction syndrome that Ms. Jackson talks about. It's amazing how productive I can be when I can focus. Staying focused has gone from a good work habit to a major league skill.

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