In the 2Time Management system, there is a fundamental practice called “Interrupting” which is essential in helping to bring a user out of the Flow state when it’s time to move on to the next time demand, or it’s time to attend to an ermegency of some sort.
An article from 2008 in the New York Times entitled “Meet the Hackers” looks at some sophisticated ways to think about interruptions. Here is an excerpt:
When Mark crunched the data, a picture of 21st-century office work emerged that was, she says, “far worse than I could ever have imagined.” Each employee spent only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted and whisked off to do something else. What’s more, each 11-minute project was itself fragmented into even shorter three-minute tasks, like answering e-mail messages, reading a Web page or working on a spreadsheet. And each time a worker was distracted from a task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task. To perform an office job today, it seems, your attention must skip like a stone across water all day long, touching down only periodically.
The article is worth reading, even if it is a bit outdated. One scientist is researching the effect that Windows has on people’s productivity, which made me wonder if the tail wasn’t wagging the dog.
In other words, shouldn’t they be studying how people work, and then build software to help them accomplish the job they are trying to do?
I do hope that Microsoft and others are doing that kind of research.