Interruption eruption

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled Internet browsing to bring you this important message about interruptions.

We’re interrupted all the time, aren’t we? In the name of multi-tasking and efficiency, we try to do too much in too little time and--

Sorry, I had to take that call.

Recent studies have found that modern communication technology adds to the stress of daily living. Because we can be plugged in all the time, we feel that we must keep up. So we check our e-mail every few minutes and send text messages while we’re eating and answer calls in the middle of the night--

OK, I’m back. Sorry about that. News from the stock market. Had to do some deep breathing exercises.

Constant contact should make us more productive, but a recent study found that we’re actually less productive because we’re interrupted so much.

Researchers found that people work faster when they’re often interrupted, but they produce less, said study co-author Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California-Irvine.
The study found that only 20 minutes of interrupted work resulted in higher stress and frustration. Worse yet, the study found that people were as likely to interrupt themselves as they were to be interrupted by others.

Mark told The New York Times that observers found that “after every 12 minutes or so, for no apparent reason, someone working on a document will turn and call someone or e-mail.”

She said more research needs to be done to learn why people work in this pattern, but it might have something to do with increasingly short attention spans.

Wait. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Attention spans. Whatever.

Because of frequent interruption, self-inflicted or otherwise, Mark said, workers don’t spend time thinking in-depth about, um, their, uh, work.

OK, back again. I had to go play a game of pinball with my computer. Sometimes, I need to blow off a little steam, you know? Too much stress from interruptions. I’m sure that interjecting some fun makes me a more productive worker in the long run.

Except now I don’t remember where I was. I had something I wanted to say--

Hey, new e-mail! Just some spam and a joke (that old favorite about the proctologist and the llama), but I like to keep my inbox emptied out so I’m ready when important messages arrive.

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Interruptions. And stress. And, and productivity. That stuff. Right.
Sorry, another call. I swear, it’s a wonder I ever get anything done. If it’s not one interruption, it’s another--

I’m back. Had to hurry to the other end of the house to see what made that funny noise. Haha, it was the icemaker. Not really a funny noise at all. Just the usual grrr-grrr ka-chunk. We sure go through a lot of ice around here. Odd, when you think about it, because I mostly drink coffee (no ice!) or diet colas that are already cold in the can, and the rest of the family--

There I go again, interrupting myself. It’s hard to stay on track when I go off in another direction every 12 minutes or so.

Anyway, to sum up, I’d like to say you can overcome this addiction to interruption. Turn off your cell phone and limit checks on your e-mail. Manage the flow of information before it manages you.

I’ll be back with more great tips, right after I take this call--

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