Guest Post By Rich Schefren - Are You the Interruptible Type

Rich Schefren launched his Attention Age Doctrine II today, and as part of the announcement he asked if he could write a guest post on SEO Book. Here it is. Make sure to download the Attention Age Doctrine II if you enjoy this post!

Are You the ‘Interruptible’ Type?

There’s an old time management adage that I particularly enjoy.

“Take control of your minutes and the hours will look after themselves.”

This sound advice can be quite an education for online entrepreneurs. For many ambitious business owners, those minutes of productivity can be slippery because of interruptions and distractions. Once lost, these minutes are tough to find again.

According to recent statistics, the typical office worker is interrupted every three minutes by a phone call, e-mail, instant message or other distraction. That’s 20 times per hour: 160 times every business day.

Add to those stats the seemingly endless ability for creative thinkers to be distracted while working, and you’ll soon discover a big problem – Productivity plummets and anxiety increases. Not a good combination.

So, is it any wonder why people feel the stress of “not getting anything done?”

As they say in the TV infomercials, “there has to be a better way.”

If we take control of the time we spend working – and the time we spend away from work – we will be less distracted during times when peak production is essential to our success.

This means limiting interruptions – all types of interruptions. These include visits from friends and family, unsolicited conversations with co-workers, random e-mails, instant messages, phone calls… the list goes on.

In a 24/7 total access world of communication, it appears that some people are more “interruptible” than others simply because they allow themselves to be.

Are you the “interruptible” type? Do you invite distraction by letting your mind wander?

It requires a powerful and determined mind to beat back the habit of succumbing to distraction. Without building up the ability to focus your attention on your business, you’ll never be fully satisfied with your results.

Maybe you are in a rut and you find yourself easily distracted. Perhaps you have experienced and are tentative because of past business failure. Maybe you are indecisive about what you need to succeed, and you just can’t pull the trigger on “the next big thing” for your business.

Setbacks, interruptions and distractions are all around us, but we don’t have to let them disable us from achieving our goals.

You have to get beyond distraction and back on track toward success. The only person who can remedy this situation is you.

So, what are you going to do about it?

My coaching clients often wonder why they feel so inefficient, even in the face of many accomplished tasks. They earn a lot of money, appear to be quite successful, yet there is something that is nagging them about their own productivity.

Why are so many energetic entrepreneurs so insecure about their own inability to focus when faced with distractions? I think it’s because we are human.

Despite the superhero image we may promote and project on ourselves, for even the most experienced entrepreneur, this is often a façade. It’s all just bluster and bravado.

But what makes you so “interruptible?” Why are you so easily taken off course?

The answer is certainly a personal one, but there could be a clue to your problem.

Are you really doing what makes you happy? Have you discovered your passion in life?

If not, perhaps you are searching for ways to discover passion elsewhere. Maybe your distractions are just diversions from the important tasks in front of you. Despite your financial success, it is possible that you are not happy with the path you are presently following.

This was the central point in The Final Chapter, part of my Internet Business Manifesto trilogy of reports. You must determine your strengths and passions and build your business upon them.

Anything else, especially during times of struggle, may seem like a tiresome diversion. Your attention is better suited when focused on what you love most.

Published: November 28, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


November 29, 2007 - 12:18am

I think interruptions can be helpful. I can multi task thru the day, and honestly, my best thinking is done at the back of my mind, inaccessible to my conscious thought. This part of my brain will finish a problem that i give it, and then spit the entire finished answer at me when it is ready. This weekend, while at a cafe listening to live music, the entire design of a landing page I've been puzzling over just came. It was great.

November 29, 2007 - 4:02am

Hi Alex
I think I am much the same way on that too, but the big issue is that it is hard to get big projects done, like writing or rewriting a book, launching a new site, redesigning an old site, etc.

November 29, 2007 - 11:01am

As with all things I think there has to be a balance.

As Alex suggested sometimes being forced to move you thoughts around can actually help you solve problems but I think you should always have the "ability" to switch off all distractions and concentrate on a project if it needs the attention, this is one reason why I would love my own office space at work (we work open plan) but obviously you can't have everything you want.

It does help if you "accidentally" close Outlook so you don't get any emails for half an hour, most people can wait no matter how urgent they think the problem is.

November 29, 2007 - 11:08am

Thank you for this great post :-)

In fact I liked it so much, that I registered just for saying that.

Speaking of which, I'm reading your blog for some time now, and I think it's time I return a favor. So here is a short feedback about the blog ;-)

1. You make people register before commenting. I wanted to comment at least 6-7 times on the last several months, but skipped. You are loosing content.
Well, that wouldn't be too bad if google didn't like fresh content. People are landing on old posts of yours and a comment added once in a while could have given it a 'nice fresh look'...

2. Speaking of which, mind adding a link at the begging of the comments section to add a comment? After I registered just for commenting this post, I thought I couldn't comment... :-|

3. Dude, I couldn't find the diggit button. I would have dugg at least 5 articles by now. Not for you, but for myself as a bookmark. Not that it would have heart you.

Well, don't want to sound like a preacher, so I guess I'll stop now :-)

*MANY* *MANY* thanks for the great material you are publishing!


November 29, 2007 - 12:34pm

Hi C3
Thanks for the kind comments. As far as your concerns go...

  1. There is too much spam in the SEO field to want to deal with editing comment spam for an hour a day. The people who really care hopefully will eventually sign up - like you did. It is not just about getting content, but more about signal to noise that I am concerned with. I would rather not work for gain of spambots. :)
  2. Once you are logged in there is the opportunity to comment at the bottom, but you are right about the comment link needing to be at the top too. Great point! I will try to fix this ASAP.
  3. Digg bans most anything from SEO blogs because they associate SEO with manipulative scum. This association is upheld and supported from within Digg by a few top Diggers who are SEOs but do not want the Digg community to realize it.
November 29, 2007 - 2:25pm

Could there be a difference between multitasking and interruptions?

I don't think this is going to make sense to a lot of people. I am ripping this off of some computer science operating systems stuff :)

Multitasking is productive when your rate of work is more than the rate at which a particular task on your TO-DO list CAN be done. That is when you can pick a few tasks and do them simultaneously.

IMHO, There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Interruptions are when you "branch" into a new task and god knows if it is really important. Interruptions make us loose track of our "stack of operations" that we set out to do.

By that I mean 'I wanted to do A, for that I need to do B, in doing B i should do C and D' and by the time you're done with C and get interrupted you forget the whole picture.

Forgot to Add:

Aaron you da man!

November 30, 2007 - 12:38am

Hi Rajasekharan
I think I do it both ways sometimes. I think the key is to make sure that sometimes you go one route and sometimes you go another. Creating some high value products and refining high value ideas requires some amount of focus.

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