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Tuesday, 10.18.05:  Distractible?

Are you distractible? Prone to following any shiny object on a busy day? Doing more, accomplishing less?

Can you believe there is a new branch of knowledge called "interruption science"?

The lead article in last week's NY Times Magazine -- "Life Hackers" -- is about the multitasking that drives us crazy, but that seems so essential to modern living. Interruption science tells us that the average office worker can't seem to spend any more than 11 minutes on any given project and that 11 minutes is broken down even further into jumping from task to task within that project. Each time a worker is interrupted from a task, it takes 25 minutes to get back to it.

So the scientists went on to study "sickeningly overprolific" people. What are the secrets of people who accomplish enormous amounts of output while sitting at the same cluttered desks as the rest of us mortals? The results show that even high tech software engineers use low-tech solutions to reduce chaos and distraction. They may take one simple piece of software -- like word processing -- and shove their entire lives into it. They write everything into a single documents -- birthdays, to-do lists, addresses -- then when they need something, they just do a search. It makes sense that the solution should be simpler than the problem -- but how many of us think that way?

They also found that , for office workers, multiple monitors or gigantic (like 42 inches) computer screens actually keeps workers more relaxed and focused. With everything visible out of the corner of your eye -- like the control panel of an airplane -- a worker can boost productivity by 10%.

Interesting.

RESOURCES

Dave Allen. Productivity guru -- the "game of work and the business of life." GTD (Getting Things Done).

43Folders. A blog full of productivity tips.

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