Merlin Mann at 43folders pretty much always has something to say (write) that’s worth hearing (reading). Merlin posted on the issue of interruptions. He starts by recounting Mark Bittman’s Saturday piece in the NY Times. Read it here.Bittman writes about his experience of taking a day away from the wired world. These sorts of stories have become pretty common.
They’re popular because most of us can relate. If you’re not a knowledge worker [I prefer, “toiler of the brain,” see Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 226 (1892)] its pretty unlikely that you’ll be reading the NY Times. Most knowledge workers deal day in and day out with technology like the iPhone/Blackberry/Treo, email, fax, phone, etc. And who among us wouldn’t like less information gushing into our lives?
Merlin rightly points out that the problem isn’t so much the technology as it is the culture that surrounds how we use the technology. We’re using 199os methods to manage 2008 data.
In 1994 as a freshman at Samford University I believe I got something like 6 emails all year. In fact, I didn’t really understand what the internets were. Things have changed. The issue is interruptions more than technology. Let’s not kill the technology because we use it in pathological ways, but let’s harness it and use it in life-giving and helpful ways.
And part of learning to do that is learning to take small technology Sabbaths – periods of when you cannot be interrupted by phone, email, fax, etc. These don’t have to be times when you’re totally unproductive. Use them to make handwritten notes or do filing. Whatever you do, make sure that you cannot be interrupted. It is these long stretches of time that will help restore your sanity and (ultimately) make you more productive.