Sunday, September 25, 2011

Working: how to minimize interruptions

1. Have ready excuses for being late coming home or making dinner. For example: traffic; forgetfulness; quantum time jumps ("I was just about to leave. I had just one more quick thing to do before calling it a day; but when I next looked at the clock, somehow an hour had gone by.") If you do it frequently enough, you can train the people around you to accept it, and they won't mind it any more when you're late: either that, or they disappear from your life. Either way frees your time.

2. Wait before recharging your cell phone, until someone points out that they tried to reach you and couldn't get a hold of you. Eventually people stop calling you. That also frees your time.

3. As much as possible, keep your eyes focused on the paper or the screen that you are currently working with. Briefly glance at the human shapes coming home, just long enough to check that they are not aliens, and immediately bring your eyes back to the target of your attention.

4. Have a well-designed set of questions that you can go through without using any part of your brain, so that you can continue working at the same time as you are holding a conversation. For example:

"- How was your day?
- Ok. The econ teacher didn't come, so we had study instead.
- Excellent. And how was your day?
- You just asked me that question.
- Oh, sorry... have you had dinner yet?
- No, not yet.
- Oh. I think there's something in the fridge. Maybe. Just help yourself, ok?
- Actually, could I go out with friends instead?
- Great idea. Do you need money?
- Yes. For dinner, and maybe for condoms. Can I take $20?
- Sure, go ahead. I'm just going to stay here and work while you're gone. Don't come back too early -- um, I mean, don't come back too late!"


  1. Please tell me that the person in 4 is your child and not your spouse. :-)

  2. Anonymous: actually that was a hypothetical conversation that never took place in reality.