Do interruptions really mean less efficiency?

Until recently I always considered interruptions a massive blocker for my productivity, for as long as I can remember those around me preached that it impacted their development efficiency and so that’s what I believed.

Traditionally i’d lose at the very least… 10 to 20 minutes of progress per interruption, getting back into the thought process and immersing myself in the code would become more and more difficult throughout the day. It wasn’t unusual to find myself at 6pm with a sense of nothing achieved.

How to prevent interruptions?

  1. The headphones : A great pair of headphones makes a massive difference for concentration. When there’s too much noise to focus I’ll often sit there with them on, even without music. They’re also the universal sign for “piss off, i’m busy!”.
  2. Hot-desking : If your workspace offers desks where you can rotate to it can be a great way to switch things up and escape the usual crowd. Definitely consider lunch, meeting rooms or even cafe’s (in the less chaotic periods of course).
  3. Busy calendar : This works well with hot-desking, block out periods in your calendar to prevent unexpected meetings, take it one step further and move locations so you don’t get walk-ins.
  4. Being direct : Naturally people don’t want confrontation which is why we often give in to assisting or answer questions on the spot. Ask people to direct the questions in bulk via email or your favourite chat application (slack ftw). Repetition is key!
  5. Closing applications : A good portion of time is spent checking emails and responding to messages, the easiest solution is to close these applications and dedicate a time of the day to check and respond.

Moving in-to a Tech Lead (the sponge) role meant I had to suddenly be reactive and available especially for my team. Fortunately and unfortunately I was forced to break that developer mentality if I wanted to develop myself and my career, strangely enough interruptions are now my daily life.

The past few months I’ve seen myself become more resilient when diving back into code, I guess exposure to the “negatives” wasn’t so bad after-all…

Interruptions are just a natural part of work life the quicker you stop resisting and embrace these pain points the quicker you’ll learn and adapt.

Adaption at it’s finest.

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