Don’t Let the Interruption Become Your Focus

Over the past few months, ever since reading The Creative Habit and Making Ideas Happen, I’ve thought a bunch about focus and what it can do for your work. I wrote about interruption, distraction, focus techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, and how losing focus is the enemy of productivity.

Something I just noticed recently was that interruptions come in different sizes. While focus is usually either “on” or “off”, interruptions can come in different forms and have different consequences to productive work.

Take for example getting distracted at the office. Getting interrupted at the office is common, if you’ve read Rework than you’ve heard how offices are usually good at preventing you from  work and instead promote interruption and distraction. Getting focus is hard to do in environments like that. Everything is a distraction, and because of it you eventually stop noticing how many interruptions to productive work happen.

Something that happened to me recently jolted me into thinking about how while some interruptions are pleasant, like welcomed escapes from work, most just kill your creativity, your energy, and your mood. Last week I had an application I was using on my phone crash while writing a blog post. Good apps don’t crash often, but it still happens, and in an environment like iOS where your app is your whole interface with the device, a crash means your whole experiences gets interrupted.

What I realized on the bus was that having an application crash on me while I was in a writing flow really sucked. I felt anger, and I felt frustrated that I wouldn’t be able to write down my idea again as it was originally.

I still count it as a interruption to productive work though.

And energy spent getting angry about a interruption is unproductive.

Get back up as quickly as you can into a productive stance after you take a hit. 

After a while you’ll start to train yourself to resist them. You’ll start to feel less and less affected by those interruptions.

One thought on “Don’t Let the Interruption Become Your Focus

  1. I’m starting to realize building the ability to focus is really like a martial art and an endurance sport. Meaning, as you develop the skill you get better at deflecting the unexpected, and getting back to work. Then as you become better at focusing, slowly you are able to do it for longer. Noticing, that I’m distracted from work I thought I would add a comment– so hopefully something comes out of my distraction.Also, listen to David Allen’s lecture at Google about being like water. Learning to react proportionally, whether it is managing what you tasks or your focus. When a pebble size interruption or task comes your way, you need a pebble size response. When a boulder size distraction or task comes your way, you need a different size response.

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