Thursday, May 16, 2013

Excuse Me. . .

Interruptions - I've been thinking about them a lot lately, in between rethinking my lists and attending to the many distractions that comprise the work day.  As we near the end of the fiscal year and the planning for new computers is really revving, more and more I see co-workers fighting the noise with headphones on and glazes intent on double and triple monitors.

Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath - a good read that addresses, among many other things, the value we place on multi-tasking and how we should rethink our work.  The authors contend that if a change is needed in the workplace, we typically focus on changing personnel when really, the easiest way to implement a change is to change the environment.  When you go to the library, you very often, and automatically, lower your voice.  If you are at a concert, you join the throng of screamers.  You can use the environment to change behavior and the workplace is no different.

I've been thinking about how valuable it would be to institute quiet hours in the office, likeI had during school nights in the dorms so many years ago.  An established time dedicated to coding or concentrating - time that wouldn't get derailed by interruptions. 

This is a common practice in the airline industry.  Since most accidents happen during take-off and landing, the rule of the "sterile cockpit" dictates that no conversation is permitted in the cockpit anytime the aircraft is below 10,000 feet, either ascending or descending, unless it is directly related and necessary to the task at hand.  What if we instituted this in the workplace?  Maybe a quiet hour for the first hour and last hour of the work day.  Not only would we get more done, we might just get it done completely and accurately.

Switch is an interesting read that addresses the war between our emotions and our rational self,
both at work and at home, and demonstrates how to change our patterns to achieve results.

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