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SBJ: Filtering interruptions to enhance focus

Emerging Technology - Discover Magazine - E-mail Making You Crazy?

Steven Johnson on battling the email and interruption avalanches with smarter technology. He also cites the King's College study suggesting that "multitasking" makes you less productive than if you'd been doing bong hits.

But full-screen mode is limited. You may not want to eliminate the outside world entirely. If there’s an urgent staff meeting called, you don’t want to miss the e-mail. On the other hand, you don’t want to be distracted by 15 other e-mail messages that could be read later. People already prioritize by thresholds of concentration. That’s why you may say to an assistant: “Please, don’t bother me with calls—unless it’s my spouse.”

Computers should be better at this kind of filtering, but they’re not programmed to anticipate how your attention shifts from one minute to the next. Your e-mail client doesn’t know that you’re trying to focus on another, more pressing problem. But it would be easy enough to create protocols that define different modes of concentration. Many laptops have location settings that allow you to switch from office mode to home mode and thus change a whole host of settings. Why not offer a comparable option for defining different mental states?

I do not disagree.

[ thanks, David Kuykendall ]

Scott's picture

Instead of configuring notification intervals...

Instead of configuring notification intervals and filters in each application, why not have something like Growl that filters and queues up received notifications for delivery?

You could even create notification profiles for different situations, such as "Workin' it", "Oh, Titus, I'm bored!", "LMTFA", etc. Since notifications are processed external to each application, you wouldn't need to reconfigure each one when you want more or less interruptions at different intervals.

This would also be a way to provide filtering and queueing functionality to apps that support might not support it.




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