Fascinating article in the NY Times about “Life Hackers” — Meet the Life Hackers. I learned way too much about things like the “science of interruptions” and those that study such things. One researcher, Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California at Irvine, is quoted in the article:
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.
Eleven minutes of three minute tasks? Wow. That’s multitasking for sure. I’ve written about multitasking because I find it interesting, but I’m taking steps to snuff it out of my work life. I don’t want my attention “skipping like a stone across water all day long” because it simply too distracting. I’ve improved greatly, although I still work too many hours. 🙂 That’s next. But at least now, I’m focusing on a few related tasks at a time. I find that multitasking only reduces the quality of my work and harms my health. And yes, it took 20 years of multitasking to figure that out. I’m slow.