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Dave Cheong on staying focused at work
Merlin Mann | Jan 8 2007
In this post from last August, Dave Cheong pointed out some of the hazards of working in a cube farm, and he proposes some handy tips for wresting back your attention from a room full of interruptions and distractions. I think a few of these tips are big winners.
I realize that many of these ideas assume a lot of autonomy and control over your work day as well as how you conduct it -- obviously not every career is conducive to the enforcement of what amounts to "office hours" -- but I think that's kind of the point as well as the irony and the big, bottom-line challenge.
If the typical knowledge worker were removing shrapnel, driving a fire truck, or piloting a shrimp boat, people would know to leave him or her alone; clearly that person is "working." But if someone is "just typing with headphones on," there's a seemingly small disincentive to, say, just ask a quick question or even conduct the equivalent of a 5-minute meeting.
It's really up to each of us to learn these tricks and (one hopes) to eventually develop some structures -- bulwarks against interruption and attention larceny -- and to encourage an atmosphere where all our colleagues can know, respect, and support one another's need to minimize unnecessary distraction.
For now, we've got headphones and an icy stare, and I guess that's better than nothing.
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