A Plan for Managing (Constant) Interruptions at Work

Content type: Article

SummaryInterruptions are a fact of organizational life and endlessly fragment our time and thus our attention. Our brains find it difficult to switch attention between tasks; more often than not, part of our attention stays focused on the interrupted task and does not fully switch to the interrupting demand — a term coined attention residue. Consequently, we perform interrupting tasks with only part of our cognitive resources and risk performing them poorly. So what can we do about it? Research shows that a simple intervention known as a “Ready-to-Resume” plan can help. Next time someone interrupts you, take a few seconds to note where you are on the interrupted task and what you want to do and focus on upon return. This action provides your brain the cognitive closure it needs to reduce attention residue so you can be more present and perform at your best.

Source: Harvard Business Review