It seems obvious, but it’s oh, so important!
Kelly Allison in her article “
Research suggests that after a creative flow of thoughts has been interrupted, it can take people between 15 and 30 minutes to properly resume that flow. That’s up to half an hour of wasted time. And time is precious!
Interruptions can also increase your stress levels, lower your mood and reduce your productivity.
Interruptions are especially counterproductive
“. . . if you’re working on one task and you’re interrupted on a completely different topic. People have to shift their cognitive resources, or attentional resources, to a completely different topic. You have to completely shift your thinking, it takes you a while to get into it and it takes you a while to get back and remember where you were.”Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching.
By Kermit Pattison 07-28-08
When I was writing The Bitterbynde Trilogy, I would often write at nights, when the human members of the household were abed, and only the brownies were pottering about downstairs, quietly doing the housework (I wish).
A strategy I used during the day was pasting a sign on my door, on which I’d written words to the effect of “Please do not come in unless it’s an emergency”. There seemed to be a lot of daily emergencies, however, so this wasn’t entirely successful.
If you’re trying to write, and need some distraction-free time and space, it really helps to be surrounded by people who understand.
Some people think that putting their head around the door with a five-second inquiry about where you put the clean socks should not be a problem for you. Try to make them understand that they’ve just violently ripped you out of a completely different world, thrown you, dazed, into their world, hammered your brain with an alien thought that’s twisted your mind as you’ve tried to comprehend it, let alone answer the question, and then when you’ve managed to overcome your shock enough to gasp out some kind of reply, they’ve blithely gone away with the impression they’ve done no harm.
Meanwhile you’re left desperately grasping at virtual threads, trying to untangle the complicated weave you were in the midst of, and whose fading ends floated off into the amnesiacal spaces of stillborn inspiration at the moment that door opened.
Some people get interrupted by digital distractions. If that’s you, turn off all “notifications” on all your devices. Turn off your phone.
That’s all for now… sain thee, and may your work be blessed with few interruptions.