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Reduce Interruptions, Have Everything Go Better

Today we are prone to too many interruptions to approach our potential level of productivity

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In computer science, an interruption is a signal to a computing device that halts the execution of a program in progress so that some other action can proceed. In electrical engineering, an interruption comes in the form of a circuit that conveys a signal that stops the execution of a running program.

In everyday life, an interruption is a break in the action and is derived from the Latin words inter, which is to go between, and ruptus, which is to break off. Hence, an interruption can be described as something that comes between entities and separates them, such as you and the task you’re attempting to complete! Curiously, ruptus is related to the word rupture, which in biology is defined as a tearing apart of tissue; in politics, a breach of the peace; or in everyday affairs, a state of being broken apart.

Interruptions Impede Productivity

For career professionals seeking to be highly productive, interruptions represent a “breaking apart” of their ability to stay focused and strive for completion of the task at hand. In many work environments today — the traditional office as well as in mobile settings — each of us are prone to too many interruptions to even approach our potential level of productivity. Why? We are subjected to more potential interruptions than any previous workforce since homo erectus emerged from caves.

Unprecedented challenges call for unprecedented solutions. It is not enough to turn your cell phone ringer or vibrator off. It is insufficient to believe that merely closing your office door will safeguard you from intruders. It is folly to believe that tomorrow is somehow going to be better than today if we don’t take a certain number of measures that guarantee we can work for 30, 60, or 90 minutes undisturbed when we need to.

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Many years ago I met with the CEO of the Planning Research Corporation (PRC) in his office on the top floor of a building on K Street in Washington D.C. From this vantage point, he was able to look out of large picture windows in three directions, including to the west for dozens of miles into Virginia. His office, the foyer leading into it, the receptionist’s area prior to that, the hallway leading to that, and the entire floor was notably more quiet than any of the floors under it. Like so many other top executives, he knew the importance of being able to marinade in his own thoughts.

The Quiet to Reflect

Those reaching the top rungs of organizations and who aspire to high achievement, instinctively understand the importance of safeguarding their environment. They understand the value of being able to reflect upon the challenges before them, to utilize the full measure of their cerebral capabilities, and craft a plan or devise a solution to meet that challenge.

In our own lives and careers, sometimes we don’t have the choice of working on a quiet floor with barriers surrounding our work space that ensure the quiet we need to concentrate on the challenges before us. We do, however, have options regardless of our working environment that can increase the probability we will have vital stretches throughout the day and the week, where we are free of disturbances and can safely predict that interruptions will not take us off course.

Most career professionals, at times during the week, have the opportunity to take command of their immediate environment through a variety of procedures that are quite well known but unfortunately not put into practice as often as one might do so.

Interruption-Proof Your Environment

In my book Breathing Space, originally published in 1990, and revised several times since, I offer some suggestions for safeguarding your working environment and minimizing interruptions:

  • Surround yourself with everything you need to fully engage in the change process, which also might involve assembling resources, people, and space, as well as ensuring that you have a quiet environment free of distractions.
  • Give yourself the hours or days you need to read, study, and absorb what is occurring, and to make decisions about how you’ll apply new ways of doing things and new technology to your career, business, or organization.

Go “cold turkey,” which is not recommended for most people! Suspend what ever else you’re doing and engage in whatever it takes to incorporate a new way of doing things. This is enhanced by ensuring that you’ll have no disturbances, bringing in outside experts, and assembling any other resources you need to succeed.

As the Allstate commercial used to say, “Life comes at you fast.” In the future, today will seem like an era of peace and tranquility. Life will come at us ever-faster as our technology and mobile devices connect us with more and more people, and information sources around the world. We have to establish effective habits and procedures to buttress ourselves against what we know is coming: more information, more communication, more to sift through, more to learn, and more to respond to.

It’s All  Finite

Our work week and our lives are finite. We can only cram in so much information within a given period of time. The ability to understand and absorb what we need to, and keep at bay all the extraneous information that competes for our attention is a skill which must be developed, honed, and refined now. It won’t be any easier later.

The sooner we recognize that our interruption-based society is here to stay, at least for now, the sooner we can embrace and securely put into place those measures that will ensure that we can be at our best for today and for the long run.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Pandora Papers, a box of trouble for whom?

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Pandoras box seems to be a well-known metaphor in today’s culture. It is often used to represent unknowingly opening a box of wop-ass. The Greek origins are a little more complex.  Pandora was the first human woman, a gift from the gods. She was made from earth to be lovely as a goddess. With the gift of speech to tell lies, and the mind and nature of a treacherous dog. She was given a golden crown of animals and sea creatures. Pandora was blessed with grace, desire and caring to weaken her limbs.

Pandora was the first woman to live among mortal men, first bride and great misery. She was destined to live with men in times of plenty and to desert them in hard times.  Her name means both “she who gives all gifts” and “she who was given all gifts”. In the mythology she opened a jar that belonged to her husband that contained every misery that affects man to today, but managed to close it before hope was able to escape the jar.

Which brings us to the latest document leak from the International Consortium of investigative Journalists or ICIJ. This is the latest of leaks following the Panama papers and the Paradise papers. ICIJ claims this is the largest leak of tax haven information ever. The 11.9 million financial records include information on 330 politicians and high level leaders, including 35 country leaders. For two years over 600 journalists from 117 countries helped to follow up leads exposed by the leak.

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Top leaders with homes in Malibu, Monti Carlo, and high rise towers in Dubai. Investments in sugar plantations, polluting factories, and even a hospital. Secret companies and Trusts to hide assets from taxes and their people. ICIJ likes to point out that this money could have been used to help build roads, hospitals, and schools. They also imply the money comes from ill-gotten gains. Pointing out that hiding money is also used during drug smuggling, human trafficking, bribery, and international terrorism.

In an effort to seem like actual investigative journalists they do mention that nothing they were fed was illegal.  They failed to mention that the tax regulations in every one of the countries involved are written by the rich themselves. Mostly by those not uncovered by the Pandora Papers. Something the 600 seemed to have over looked during their two year investigation is any tax avoidance from the United States. Funny thing that.

To find out why you need to look at who the International Consortium of investigative Journalists is and who finances them. It turns out the group was founded in 1997, they claim to take no public funds only donations. Their largest donors happen to be Soros, thru the The Open Society Foundation. Now needless to say Soros is not going to admit what each one of these people did to stop his march towards one world government headed by Soros and company, but we can speculate.

Tony Blair, supported the American action in Afghanistan. King Abdullanh met with and supported Israel. Vladimir Putin would rather not have a one world government telling him how to run Russia. Shakira no stranger to wokeness had the gall to disagree with the Conovirus imprisonment and demanded children be let outside into the sun and air. You can bet that each one of the targets of this dump had somehow displeased those supporting the great reset.

Each one of these thought they had found a beautiful tax haven not knowing it was she who gives all gifts and conversely she who is given all gifts. By selectively revealing that it is worthwhile to spend money to hide income from those who did not earn it is telling. Besides highlighting that taxes are too high for the services provided. Telling that not one American is mentioned. Telling that the “journalists” didn’t discover how politicians in government get rich on civil service salaries. Not one mention of the heads of NGO’s (non-governmental agencies) have found that the poor are very very good for them. How about a peek into how many of the 1.5 million tax exempt organizations in America are just a tax dodge.

We will wait with the patience of Job for the International Consortium of investigative Journalists to do some real investigating.

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The People Who Size You up Instantly

Beware of people who conveniently assess what you need, while missing the boat about their own needs

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I went to a social gathering and, arriving early, few others had arrived. So I took out my notepad and pen, and leisurely started making notes. A lady who saw me, asked what I was writing, which, of course, could be either a friendly way to start a conversation, or intrusive, depending on your point of view. I took it as the former, and shared with her my predisposition to take notes outside of my office where I generate ideas that don’t readily emerge at my desk.

Apparently my explanation was not satisfactory for her. In rapid succession she told me, ‘You need to get a drink. (Actually, I don’t drink.) You should to stop making notes. You ought to relax. (Making notes is relaxing to me.) You need to get a life.’

Paradoxically, I am the author of the books, Breathing Space and Simpler Living, and the audiobook, Get a Life. I also own the registered trademarks for the programs, Relaxing at High Speed and Managing the Pace With Grace. I have delivered 1,060 lectures on these topics for three decades.

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Quick and Wrong

It’s beyond strange when someone at a social gathering, in such short order, will assess what I need to do, with one pronouncement after another. When told that I needed to relax, I said, “If I was any more relaxed, I’d fall asleep.”

I came away from that experience recognizing that people who will readily tell you what you need are the ones who need what they’re telling you. You might have noticed a somewhat similar phenomenon in the workplace.

Suppose you work in a company that is crowded, noisy, and busy almost all the time. However, in your own office or cubicle, whichever the case might be, you’re able to maintain order.

Perhaps you have installed some sound barriers, if that is appropriate, and have crafted a workspace where you can get things done. People who walk by notice that your office equipment, resources, and possessions are organized. Guess what? Some office mates won’t tell you this, but they are uncomfortable with your organizing skills.

If they could find a simple way to articulate it, they would tell you, “Loosen up.” You don’t need to be so neat and orderly.” Why are they itching to tell you this? Because your level of organization makes them feel inadequate.

Be Like Me, I’ll Feel Better

Much like the lady at the social gathering, who told me ‘what I needed,’ some people in your immediate environment, in observing your capacity for taking charge of your space, and perhaps noting your higher-than-average level of productivity, would rather that you acted and proceeded in a different way. You might not hear that from them, but that is some might be thinking.

Beware of those people who so conveniently assess what you need, while completely missing the boat about their own needs. They fail to realize that what they’re telling you, is probably what they need to address for themselves.

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