Interruption Management
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Interruption Management

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Many Choices, Little Focus - Interruption Management

If making product purchases was as simple as choosing supermarket items, we could all cope. But the tyranny of choice extends to large products, as well as services like insurance, retirement options, investments, and frequent flyer programs.

By the time we absorb all the rules and regulations, we heap on more stress to our already stretched-thin composure. I recommend that you judge the merits of any product or service on two criteria:

(1) the intended benefit, and

(2) the ease with which you can understand and enjoy those benefits.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Piles are Distracting - Interruption Management

Piles accumulate.. be they stacks of mail, reports, survey forms, seminar announcements, catalogs, etc.  Confront your piles head-on with a take-no-prisoners attitude!

If you haven't noticed already, such piles can accumulate in a hurry. A couple of file folders, issues of a magazine, some office memos, something you clipped from the newspaper, a single day's worth of mail, some fliers left by your door, and POOF, you've got a pile!

Piles, by their nature, tend to represent complexity and unfinished business. Each pile in your visual field, i.e., that you encounter in any given day, registers in your brain, if only for a pico second at a time, as more stuff that you haven't really dealt with. Fortunately, there are ways to handle the ad hoc piles materializing a little too frequently in your life:

* Dismantle piles with relative grace. Have available a pen, some file folders, paper clips, rubber bands and a stapler. Now you're ready to collect everything on your desk or table or elsewhere that needs, or you suspect may need, attention. Stack all of it in front of you in a temporary pile. If the pile is high, your incentive to do so may be that much greater. In 30 minutes or less, you're going to dismantle and reallocate this simplicity-threatening pile. Allocate each item to one of four locations – an important pile, an urgent pile, an interesting pile, or the recycling bin, where most items will go.

* Allocate to the best of your knowledge. If an item is urgent and important, place it in the important pile near the top. If it's simply urgent, place it in the appropriate pile. If you are unsure of any particular item, place it at the bottom of the large stack, but only do so once for each item. On the second encounter, you have to classify it. In thirty minutes or less, the voluminous pile should be gone, and you're left with three semi-neat tiny piles. Rank the items and then re-arrange them in each pile. Downgrade or toss anything you can. You're left with three smaller, more precisely arranged piles, important, urgent, and interesting.

* Get meaner and leaner.  What else can you chuck? What can be combined, ignored, delayed, delegated, done in multiples, armed-out, automated, systemized, or used for kindling? The more items you can downgrade to interesting, the farther ahead you'll be because you can deal with these items when you feel like it.

* With what's left, tackle items one by one. After you've identified the most important project or task at the top of the important folder, begin working on it. If you can't complete it, proceed with it as far as you can go. Then place it back in the folder, either on top or where you determine it now belongs. Similarly, begin on the next most important item and proceed
as far as you can go.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Over-Information is Disruptive - Interruption Management

Information can only become knowledge when it's applied. Before you can absorb and apply yesterday's intake, however, the explosion of new information floods your receptive capacity.
Such constant exposure to the daily information and media shower leaves each of us incapable of ingesting, synthesizing, or applying the data before tomorrow's shower.

The eruption of information renders us over-stimulated. The more information you try to ingest, the faster the "clock races," and your sense of breathing space is strained.

As yet, few people are wise information consumers. Curiously, there is only one party who controls the volume, rate, and frequency of information that you're exposed to. That person is you. The notion of "keeping up" is illusory, self-defeating, frustrating and harmful. The sooner you give it up the better you'll feel.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

When Rules Impede Progress - Interruption Management

Once a rule gets in place it's very difficult to eliminate it even though the original reasons for its generation are long gone, according to author Roger von Oech. His prime example:

In the 1870s the leading manufacturer of typewriters at the time received complaints that too many of the typewriter keys were sticking together if the operator went too fast. In response to this, the company produced the QWERTY type keyboard -- a configuration standard on all keyboards -- to slow down operators so that the keys wouldn't jam together.

Today, technology permits us to produce typewriter keyboards that can operate much faster than any human could possibly type, but the QWERTY configuration still dominates and likely will for the foreseeable future.

The nugget for us all: introduce new rules, new regulations, and new procedures carefully, and monitor their long term effectiveness.

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Lost Opportunities via Distractions - Interruption Management

"For all the hand-wringing about Generation M, technology is not really the problem... It's not so much that the video is going to rot your brain, it's what you are not doing that's going to rot your life."
              -- David Levy, Ph.D., University of Washington, Information School

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Reduce Distraction, Create Space - Interruption Management

When you break free of the clutter syndrome, which is endemic to 21st century man and woman, and you both physically and figuratively create open spaces in your life, you gain an enhanced perception of more time in your life.

* I advocate looking at your shelves and determining which books you can give away.

* Ask yourself who would appreciate receiving this as a gift.

* If you can't think of anyone, identify schools, libraries, hospitals, and retirement homes that might appreciate such gifts.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Take Control - Interruption Management

To break the grip that too many distractions and too much information has on you, I suggest the following:

* When you get home, practice sitting in your TV room for 30 minutes without the TV on.

* Skip reading the newspaper, anytime you feel like it.

* In general, be more thoughtful when deciding what to read. Just because there is an abundance of interesting articles to read, doesn't mean you have to read them.

We're all taking in more information than we can expect to absorb. You can only remember--and act upon -- so much anyway; so be selective!

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Jeff Davidson - Expert at Managing Interruption Overload

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Jeff Davidson: Bio

Managing Interruption Overload

Is the constant crushing burden of information and communication overload dragging you down, pulling you off course, and impeding your effectiveness? By the end of your workday, do you feel overworked, overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted? Would you like to be more focused, productive, and competitive, while remaining balanced and in control?

If you're continually facing too many interruptions and too many demands, you need Breathing Space.

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