Notifications and Interruptions: out of style?
Is it just me, or is everyone getting really tired of synchronous communications channels such as IM and phone, and of software notifying them about things?
Steve Pavlina: Please
When you interrupt someone,
on average it takes them 23 minutes to get back to
the original task, plus up to 30 minutes to return
to the flow state so they can be fully productive
again. Almost half of the time you interrupt someone,
you’ll actually knock them off task completely,
such that they won’t return to the original task
right away when the interruption ends. You may think
you’re only putting them on pause for a minute
or two, but the actual break from the task that
results from your interruption may be significantly
Joel Gascoigne: Zero
With zero notifications, I feel
like I can get my head stuck into a problem much more
easily than I did before. I never realised when I had
those notifications on that they truly could throw
me off my current thought and cause me difficulty
getting that focus back. More than anything, I feel
a lot calmer. Notifications create a sense of urgency
around something that’s not important at all.
Terry Heaton: Bombardment
The advertising industry assumes much
in its practices, the biggest of which seems to be
an inherent right to disrupt any experience of human
beings in order to sell them something.
Stephen O'Grady tried Turning
Off Email on his phone and tablet.
the two weeks I was on break, the difference was
startling. Most obviously, I was less focused on
my devices, because when I picked them up, they had
nothing new to hijack my attention. More subtle was
the mental impact. Instead of a relatively constant
stream of interruptions coming from inbound email, I
checked sporadically, at times of my choosing. Instead
of being jarred out of my vacation day by the
arrival of an email that I might not have to act upon
immediately but which I would unavoidably be turning
over mentally while I was supposed to be on vacation,
I simply went about the business of enjoying my
downtime. It was refreshing.
My first day back from vacation, I debated whether to turn the sync back on. In the end, I did not.
John Scalzi's new voicemail greeting, in Killing
My Voice Mail:
Hi, this is John Scalzi. I
will never ever ever ever listen to the voice mail
you’re about to leave, because voice mail is a pain
in the ass.
Welte: Why I hate phone calls so much:
simply impossible to get any productive work done if
there are synchronous interruptions. If I'm doing
any even remotely complex task such as analyzing
code, designing electronics or whatever else, then
the interruption of the flow of thoughts, and the
context switch to whatever the phone call might be
about is costing me an insurmountable amount of my
productive efficiency. I doubt that I am the only
one having that feeling / experience.
Russell Coker: Phone
Calls and Other Distractions.
configured my laptop and workstation to never alert
me for new mail. If I’m not concentrating then
I’ll be checking my email frequently and if I am
concentrating I don’t want a distraction.
You can trace it all back to Paul Graham's Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule, right?
Or maybe we can trace it all the way back to Prof.
Donald Knuth, who wrote, in 1990,
Email is a
wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to
be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be
on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours
of studying and uninterruptible concentration.
I think we can do better than that. The best early
example of the notification-driven life, IMHO, is the
1961 story Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt
George, while his intelligence was
way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio
in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all
times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every
twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send
out some sharp noise to keep people like George from
taking unfair advantage of their brains.