Interruptions are the bane of productivity, whether they come from other co-workers or your environment. While a distractive environment can severely hamper your ability to focus (email pop-ups in your taskbar, loud music, etc.), other people can be the biggest causes for a lapse in productivity. Part of the interruptions are mandatory, but a culture where they happen frequently never does anybody good. It’s no secret that interruptions are bad for just about everything.
Why can’t we stop our train of thought for a few minutes and leave off right where we were before the interruption? That would be a pretty sweet skill to have. The David talks with Merlin about how to handle interruptions, and while he agrees that distractions can be helped, everyone still needs some alone time to process. When we do this, we are allowing ourselves to enter the magical state of flow.
The main brain behind this concept of flow is Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. Mihaly defines flow as
being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.
Have you ever been in one of those euphoric states of work? I know I have, and it’s truly an incredible feeling. Talk about a boost for your productivity! You become so involved and proud of what you’re working on, the job seems to get done in a fraction of the time.
You can brush up a little more on flow if you’d like, but I’m going to take this moment to point out a corollary between flow and your work environment. You can’t have flow if you don’t put yourself in a position to use flow. This means eliminating distractions from:
- Other People
- Cell Phones
- Internet in General
And don’t just limit yourselves to those distractions. Get your to-do list for the day out of your secluded area. All you want in front of you is the project you’re going to work on, nothing more. If you have interruptions or distractions of any kind, it builds a great big beaver dam through your flow. Try setting aside a place and a time where you can hammer out some project in uninterrupted bliss. I know it’s somewhat of a challenge to do this, but the results will show just how important it is.