2010 was a year that included more meetings than I ever could have imagined. Many lacked clear agendas, required far too many participants to be productive or were simply directionless and resulted in countless hours of lost productivity and much head scratching, and so Jason Fried’s TED Talk on interruptions and productivity is timely and echos most of my feelings about being at the office.
A significant issue Fried doesn’t address directly is the problem of context shifting. For example — you’re interrupted at work while head down on a tough problem by a co-worker who has a question about another unrelated project. Like opening a computer program, it requires you to clear the first project information from memory (or push it aside) and load everything you know about the second one, even if it’s only for a minute. Try doing that a few times a day and your head will be spinning. It may already be. But it happens all the time and ties directly into why people are often mentally exhausted at the end of the day, don’t feel like they accomplished much, or worse yet, might be on the road to burning out.