Tuesday, September 01, 2009


"Workers on average spend just eleven minutes on a project before switching to another, and while focusing on a project, typically change tasks every three minutes....Once distracted, we take about twenty-five minutes to return to an interrupted task and usually plunge into two other work projects in the interim....Nearly 45 percent of workplace interruptions are self-initiated. (And when workers interrupt themselves, they take slightly longer to resume their original work--about twenty-eight minutes on average."
Maggie Jackson, Distracted, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. pp 84-86.
Jackson is referring to Gloria Mark, Victor Gonzalez, and Justin Harris, "No Task Left Behind? Examining the Nature of Fragmented Work," Proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems (Portland, OR, 2005).

You mean it's not just me?


Jonathan said...

Nope. But is the book any good? I decided to get all "old guy" on the first year students in this year's orientation and tell them that they should pay attention to stuff in class and not multitask. I am considering banning Facebook and surfing in my lecture course as well for the first time.

Greg Wise said...

I like the book, and think it's smart. It's aimed at a general audience, but well grounded in the research and a broad range of topics (including surveillance). There are occasional journalistic flourishes which are a touch, well, distracting, but this is only a minor issue. It would be an interesting book to teach to undergrads.

I've got a policy for laptop use that if they're caught on a non-class site they can lose laptop privileges. But then I have to police their screens while lecturing (having grad assistants placed in the audience helps this). A key thing is to have those with laptops in the back so the screens don't prove a distraction to those behind them (even if they're doing class work). That's my main issue with laptops is that they disrupt others' concentration, not just your own.

Gil said...

Sorry. Just got around to finishing this post. Thanks for sharing it! :)