Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast

The onslaught of cellphone calls and e-mail and instant messages is fracturing attention spans and hurting productivity says MATT RICHTEL in this informative article in New York Times. Some highlights from the article -
  • Intel found in an eight-month internal study that some employees who were encouraged to limit digital interruptions said they were more productive and creative as a result.
  • The fractured attention comes at a cost. In the United States, more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions, predominately mundane matters, according to Basex. The firm says that a big chunk of that cost comes from the time it takes people to recover from an interruption and get back to work.
  • The E-Mail Addict feature in Gmail is more of a blunt instrument. Clicking the “Take a break” link turns the screen gray, and a message reads: “Take a walk, get some real work done, or have a snack. We’ll be back in 15 minutes!”
Cell phones and e-mails have taken a good chunk of time. In the Indian context, with the law enforcement being lax, too many marketing calls / SMSs tend to disturb and distract out attention, even if we have registered for "Do Not Disturb". On the issue relating to e-mails, I was fascinated by the "zero e-mail Fridays" experimented by Intel. One problem which I had seen/experienced was that there is always some urgency to respond - in the process "thinking time" is less and I guess we are making more mistakes than what we would have done had we used the old written (I mean paper) communication.