Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Frazzing, short for frantic multitasking, refers to a form of mental channel switching caused by all the distractions we face today: cell phones, Blackberry coms, e-mails, pages, I-Ms, and good old, in-person interruptions. The Stickler never wants to say "I told you so," but it is what it is.

A study by a Massachusetts psychiatrist--Edward Hallowell, the person who coined the term "frazzing:--found that office workers were interrupted, on average, once every 10 and a half minutes. That's a lot of distractions in a work day, but the truly staggering finding was this: It took the distracted workers and average of 23 minutes to get back to productive work on the original task.

That study covered so-called "knowledge workers" (who use computers and related technology as an integral part of their work) and uncovered some disturbing trends. The average knowledge worker loses 2.1 hours of productivity a day to interruptions. It concluded that distractions and short attention spans are costing companies a lot of money. At $21 per hour, 2.1 hours of lost time adds up to $588 billion a year!

Instead of recognizing the real problem--the finite amount of time we have--business productivity experts suggest that technology can help. I'd say there is too much damn technology and it is the root of this evil, but who listens to The Stickler anyway? The techdoctors say your software should "recognize" what you are working on an filter out any unrelated e-mails. Another smartytech says you should have a "message compiler" that accumulates all your various interruption messages and priorities them according to a pre-set "value list." Yea, right. So how long will it take us to create our "value list?" And, how the hell are we supposed to know our idea of value matches that of our employer?

Sounds like these experts are frazzed out themselves, if you ask me. As for Dr. Hallowell, the namer of frazzing, he avoids the problem by writing a "to-do" list on paper, just so he can concentrate.

Here's my solution to frazzing: Shut off the cell phone, Blackberry, e-mail and I-M devices and software when you are concentrating. Look at them only in between project work periods. After work, shut them all down until you are "back on the clock." Don't give the many any more of your time than you get paid for. Time is more valuable than money.


Blogger klehrke said...

I never could discribe what I was experiencing until I read about frazzing. Now I know. But in the middle of all of the confusion I discovered the type of art that I call frazzing renderings, you too may view at www.karenlehrke.blogspot.com.

Thank you for your insite.

4:31 PM  

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