Software Managed Interruptions

As I mentioned in prior posts, it’s quite important for a user of the 2Time approach to appreciate the goal of getting into the Flow state as often as possible.

This requires a minimum of interruptions, and luckily for us, there are some companies that are thinking about ways to manage email so that only the most urgent messages are presented as interruptions to whatever task we are doing.  For example, I am writing this article and don’t want to be interrupted, unless an email comes in that tells me something that requires urgent attention.

(Although, honestly, it would have to be life-shattering to stop me from completing this task.)

This line of thinking is shared in the article I found at BusinessWeek entitled May We Have Your Attention Please?

Soon, however, the same kinds of social networking software and communications technologies that make it deliciously easy to lose concentration may start steering us back to the tasks at hand. Scientists at U.S. research labs are developing tools to help people prioritize the flood of information they face and fend off irrelevant info-bytes. New modes of e-mail and phone messaging can wait patiently for an opportune time to interrupt. One program allows senders to “whisper” something urgent via a pop-up on a screen.

Hmmm…. that sounds promising.

It sounds like a big challenge, and I think these scientists are headed in the right direction.  After all, they are implicitly acknowledging how important it is to preserve the state of flow, and are trying to find ways to preserve it as much as possible.

However, I don’t know it if it’s more valuable than teaching a user to be more disciplined, and all the reasons why.  After all, users need to understand why Flow is important, and that it’s more efficient to check email a few times each day rather than every few minutes.  An effort spent to teach discipline would probably do more than new software would, especially as a user can ruin all the benefit of this new software with bad personal habits.

In other words, software might fix a problem that users have in the future, but it’s better to focus one the fact that they don’t understand the problem they have now.