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Good grief -- you don't need to have ADD to find open environments and interruptions distracting! The vast majority of creative workers need quiet! (A few can focus in any situation, but they are the exceptions.)

I find I have to alternate between focused creative work and more interactive work on a timescale of days to weeks. That is, I spend several days to a few weeks (occasionally 2 or 3 months) where I am more isolated from my teammates, and get some specific development task done. Then I spend a roughly equal amout of time in "interrupt-driven" mode, answering questions from teammates and support people, fixing bugs, testing, and generally doing stuff that needs to get done but doesn't require the same level of isolation and concentration. Moving back and forth between these modes lets me do a reasonable job of both kinds of work. (I don't isolate myself totally in the creative stretches, but I let my email back up, for example, responding to only the truly urgent requests.)

The problem managers have is that their work tends to be almost entirely interrupt-driven, and the exceptions take place in meetings. It's all they know. I don't know what to suggest except maybe to ask them to imagine they were writing a book -- what kind of work environment would they need?




Separating focused, creative work from interrupt-driven work is essential. Context switching between them is expensive.

On my engineering team we tried to collect all interrupt driven work together (triaging bug reports, working on deployments, production issues) and let it only bother one person. This is a sacrificial duty of your long-term productivity we all rotate each sprint (bug duty).

I find it easier to do interrupt-driven work when I'm full time in an interruptible context. I'd much rather be on-call for a week once every couple of months than be interrupted several times a day.

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