Rescue Time and Coalesce Interrupts

xkcd comic ‘juggling’

Do you charge your smartphone nearby your keyboard, in the line of sight?

Do you use “Push” e-mail checking frequency on your smartphone mail client, and allow vibration for “Badges” that show up in “Locked Screen”?

Have you got Slack/Skype for Business/WhatsApp/Telegram open?

Look, you and I have the same problem. Interrupts. Massive productivity interrupts. In his latest book Throwing Stones at Google Bus , Douglas Rushkoff says that we operate in a “Persistent Crisis” state:

Like my fellow networked humans, I now suffer the physical and emotional stresses previously associated with careers such as air traffic controllers and 911 operators.

Look, as if we didn’t notice that! Question is, what can we do?

What I realised that “Do Not Disturb” mode and ability to Alt+F4 / Cmd+Q those Instant Messengers is actually there for a reason.

Here’s my story.

When I read that interrupts can cost up to 6 hours a day — I was shocked:

Because of unnecessary, unwanted, and completely unproductive interruptions, between 40 and 60 percent of … time was completely wasted.

Here’s another recommendation — Algorithms To Live By Audible book:

I really, really recommend this book. Particularly about interrupts, the top things I’ve learned from the Scheduling section of it is:

(1) Over 90% of scheduling problems are yet too complexed to be solved by Scheduling Theory and hence are… subject to human intuition. So breathe out and embrace the known-unknown of inbound tasks

(2) If they are more than 2..4 minutes, weigh them on a scale of positive impact they can make

(3) Task Weight = (impact, 0 to 9) / (hours it would take, integer )

(4) If it superseeds your current task’s weight, get interrupted

(5) Otherwise say “No” or in to ‘tasks cache’, subject to Interrupts Coalescing with other tasks and re-scheduling differently

I am a fan of RescueTime app for Mac and Windows. I discovered it after reading the Cost of Interrupted Work article published by team at University of California, Irvine (UCI) back in the day:

After first weeks of tracking, RescueTime showed back how interrupted was I with particular apps on my workstation.

I had enough data points to change my habits.

So now I (frankly, need to add “…try to always”):

(1) Keep my phone out of sight, disable Badges / Vibrations / Instant Messenger (IM) notification screen pop-ups

(2) Practice mindfulness and asking more about people’s “outside work” interests. The higher the ‘openness to experience’, the quicker it takes to complete an interrupted task.

(3) Leverage the stress. Reorienting back to the task is harmful time waste, and can be compensated by faster and more stressful working style. I anyway pay the price for being interrupted, so why not convert the feeling of stress to a feeling of stressful yet “rewarding” workout?..

What are your productivity tricks to fight the Interrupts?

What do you do to avoid ‘metawork’ and keep productivity at its top levels?