Do Interruptions and Productivity Rhyme With Compatibility?
This cartoon says it all! When we get interrupted, we start over and over and over. Until last Friday I ignored the fact that my phone, intelligent as it may be, was a HUGE source of interruptions.
This realization came to me when my phone died. I used that phone for most of my communications. Email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, Skype… they all generated notifications that interrupted me. Like the artist in this cartoon, developers often get into the ZONE, but any email or external disturbance usually ends up interrupting and pushing developers out of that ZONE.
Now there are a few different ways to look at this. Some say that the ZONE isn’t good for developers and that it’s actually a bad thing for the overall project. Others say that task switching kills productivity.
Odd as it may be, I agree with both. The ZONE isn’t the best thing for projects because developers often lose sight of the big picture. This usually results in code that needs to be refactored. I also agree that task switching is horrible for productivity because as I mentioned above, when I get disturbed while I work on something delicate, I just end up starting over every time I lose my trail of thought
So to sum things up, too little interruptions is just as bad as too many interruptions. The hard part is striking a balance. So when I get my replacement phone, I will change my notification settings. I will silence most notifications and keep the bare necessity so that I don’t get in trouble at home because I missed an important call. Then I will schedule some time every hour or so to check my email and other communications so that I may work in blocks without too many interruptions.
With Smart Watches and devices like Google Glass, I can’t help myself but to ask “How will we deal with interruptions and distractions generated by these new devices? How will we stay productive without being slaves to our devices?”
How do you stay productive without degrading your communications?
I like to work hard on a task, or on a bunch similar tasks, then completely switch to something completely different such as reading some non-related article or checking up on the news. This context switch seems to clear my mind, let my subconscious work on the previous task, and get me ready for the next one, clutter free.