From Flickr this distraction fitted with what I am presently thinking about: barriers to creativity. The Observer, (12/7/07) reported on: Email stress - the new office workers' plague
A deluge of messages distracts people from work.
An extract :
Renaud said: 'Email is the thing that now causes us the most problems in our working lives. It's an amazing tool, but it's got out of hand. Email harries you. You want to know what's in there, especially if it's from a family member or friends, or your boss, so you break off what you are doing to read the email.
'The problem is that when you go back to what you were doing, you've lost your chain of thought and, of course, you are less productive. People's brains get tired from breaking off from something every few minutes to check emails. The more distracted you are by distractions, including email, then you are going to be more tired and less productive.'
Workers in creative occupations or jobs involving periods of concentration focusing on getting an important project finished - such as academics, writers, architects and journalists - were likely to be worst affected, she said, while those in call centres for whom constant emails were integral to their work would not have the same problem. .......
The numbers that drive us crazy
6 trillion business email messages sent worldwide in 2006
49 minutes spent managing emails each day by the average office worker
4 hours spent managing emails per day by senior management worker
80: the percentage of emails sent which are actually 'spam' - unsolicited adverts, many of which are fraudulent or otherwise illegal
62: the percentage of workers who check business emails while at home or on holiday
10: the points fall in IQ experienced by workers distracted by email (more than twice that found in cannabis studies)
20: the percentage of workers who are stressed"
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Chicks-send-me-high) researched how creative flow happens and how it can be destroyed.. he wrote:
“ 'Flow' is a mental state of deep concentration. It typically takes about 15 minutes of uninterrupted study to get into a state of “flow”, and the constant interruptions and distractions of a typical office environment will force you out of “flow” and make productivity impossible to achieve."
Csiksentmihalyi went on to say:
"When a person's skill is just right to cope with the demands of a situation - and when compared to the entirety of everyday life the demands are above average - the quality of experience improves noticeably .... Even a frustrating job may suddenly become exciting if one hits on the right balance. "
"Creativity," points out Csiksentmihalyi , "depends on a proper balance between a person's skill level and the degree to which there are challenged by the task. When a person's skills are outweighed by an activity, the result is often a state of anxiety. Conversely, activities that are not challenging enough to match the level of skills that one possesses tend to produce a feeling of boredom."
How does it feel to be in "the flow"?
- Completely involved, focused, concentrating - with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training
- Sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality
- Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going
- Knowing the activity is doable - that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored
- Sense of serenity - no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego - afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible
- Timeliness - thoroughly focused on present, don't notice time passing
- Intrinsic motivation - whatever produces "flow" becomes its own reward
The key is of course to harness flow to achieve your vision and goals; meaning that if you are a group there needs to be some co-creation of aims and objectives to ensure there are some common standards with which to compare progress. Of course on a voyage of discovery the objectives can evolve but they have to evolve "en masse" or people will be left behind and become frustrated as they perceive their efforts to be a distraction and a waste of time