Interruptable?


I was thinking about my last post – as well as the “stuff on my plate”, and thought it may be interesting to share some examples (and simultaneously share a bit about what I’m working on).

To quickly recap, I discussed how I try to get rid of as many possible distractions when ‘I’m working on tasks where I need a lot of focus (“in the zone”), and don’t want to be interrupted. I also mentioned that I have plenty of work that doesn’t suffer (too much at least) from interruption, and that I try to do that work if I expect to be interrupted.

For example, I have to get the following things done in the next week or so where I’ll need some non-interrupted time – work where extended focus will have a big impact on my ability to accomplish the work. These items all have deadlines in the next 10 days.

  • I’m giving a presentation to a MS testing group next Friday that I need to prepare, edit, refine, practice, etc.
  • I need to write my paper for PNSQC (this one scares me a bit because I haven’t started it yet)
  • I need to write up some stats for myself on my team’s performance (annual reviews coming up)

Given the proper context, the above is only 6-10 hours of focused work. The challenge for me sometimes is carving out that much time in a week. I have a plan to get it done, and I don’t anticipate any problems.

On the other side of the fence is “stuff I have to do, but I can do it while the kids are screaming if I need to” stuff. Some examples include:

  • Writing blog posts 🙂
  • Updating the web site for sasqag
  • Various work requests (e.g. doc reviews or feedback)
  • Sending agendas for some of the recurring meetings I own
  • Updates for internal aliases I own
  • Monitoring MSDN test forum

I usually have 12-15 hours of meeting a month (3 hrs for 1:1s with my team, another hour with my boss, meeting(s) with mentees, an hour or two of team meetings and a handful of one off and recurring meetings). I do a lot of the interruptable work when, for example, I have 30-45 minutes between meetings. To me, that’s not quite enough time for focused work, but I can use those chunks to knock off a lot of the littler stuff. I usually have a couple of 3-4 hour uncommitted blocks a week where I can crank out the other stuff.

And that’s what I do (most of it) and how I do it (sort of). Thanks for indulging me.


Comments (3)

  1. JavierCaceresAlvis says:

    Wow, I still haven’t found how to do any stuff while my kid is screamming (maybe, after hours when He’s sleeping).

    =D

  2. R.K.Johnston says:

    Javier,

    I have no advice for the super little ones.  When they cry they cry and a parent needs to respond, but be sure not to over induldge.  As my kids have gotten older I’ve started using the phrases like "Daddy isn’t home, I’m actually still working" or "I’m starting work now" or "Daddy needs to go to work from home today."

  3. Great advice!

    I’ll use them too in a couple of years.