Wednesday, 29 December 2010


I heard an interesting radio piece the other day. Apparently, we are the least productive society in history. Why? Well, it takes at least 15 minutes to get into a groove of whatever task you are doing. That may not seem like very long, but after every interruption, it takes 15 minutes again to get back into it.

So obviously mothers at home cannot ever be working at peak productivity. When did you ever have 15 uninterrupted minutes at one task? Ha! Multitasking goes hand in hand with motherhood, so I just let that one go.

What the radio host was talking about, however, had more to do with our instant notification fetish. Cell phones, computers, and smart phones are all designed to notify you with a beep, pop up message or blinking light that you have some new message sitting, waiting to be read. James calls the light on his Blackberry the "red light of doom." I hate it. Hate hate hate hate hate it. Because as soon as that red light flashes, the natural sense of curiousity kicks in, and there is an immediate need to click in and see what it is. And trust me, 99% of the time it is nothing that couldn't have waited until our conversation was over.

Rant finished. Maybe.

Back to the radio show. Imagine how many times a day you check your email, facebook account, voice mail, or text messages. The estimate was 40-50, just in an 8 hour work day. That's on average 6 times an hour, or every 10 minutes. Now recall that it takes 15 minutes of uninterrupted attention to get to your optimal productivity level.

Okay, that was a lot of stats, and it really all comes down to this: just let it go. Designate times to check in with your electronics and to answer messages. Turn off the notification system so your brain isn't going nuts with anticipation. Better yet, put the item away so you don't see it. There are times that James checks the Blackberry to see if there are any messages even when the little red light isn't blinking, and that light blinks as soon as anything happens. No red light = no messages, period. I think that behaviour borders on addiction, and it is rampant in our society.

So next time you've got a project to do, set aside some time to do it (at least 30 minutes) and do it away from the temptations of technology that just won't leave you alone!

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