The Terrible Curse of Workplace Interruptions

The Terrible Curse of Workplace Interruptions

I had my crabby pants on tonight as I once again got home much later from work than I intended. For most of February now I haven’t once left work at my target time. This is the downside of having a flexible work schedule. In the morning I relish having extra time to savor my coffee but eight, nine hours later it’s a completely different story.

The odd thing about these last few weeks is that they have been some of my most productive. I’m keeping the random website visits and long lunches to a minimum without even really trying too. There’s just a lot of work to be done and I have thankfully been feeling extra motivated. Yet somehow even with what is surely some peak productivity, I’m still leaving work with more work unfinished than finished.

The sheer amount of work is definitely one big contributor to my later than normal hours. With various deadlines (real and self-imposed), I’m certainly in a work crunch yet I know it would still be wholly possible for me to leave before 6 pm at the bare minimum. The more insidious reason, and certainly the main contributor to my tardiness today had to do with interruptions.

Even when I have a day free of meetings, seminars, classes and teaching obligations (like today) and can fully focus on my research, I am still routinely interrupted. Some of the interruptions are welcome, like a friend wanting to grab lunch. The majority of the time, I’m being pulled in many directions by the people I directly supervise.

What’s challenging is to develop autonomy and ownership in your mentees but at the same time have them feel comfortable coming to you if they are doing something incorrectly. So there go the many interruptions. I’m not immune to having difficulty concentrating after being pulled away from whatever it is I’m working on. Everyday I’m attempting to handle these sudden changes in my attention more efficiently but today really took all of my effort.

At this point the change in daylight savings time can’t come any faster and then maybe I’ll finally leave work and have it still be light outside. Sunlight how I miss you so.


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