The idea of writing or working without interruptions is completely foreign to me. Every day, we have to work in the face of a million distractions. In the life of a content manager / social media manager / digital services librarian / publicist, there’s always something to be distracted by. Has someone responded to our latest page post? Did someone mention us on Twitter? Does someone need help downloading an item to their Kindle? Do I need to answer that email right now? Does that database link need updating? Staying on task with all of these potential distractions – not to mention my weakness, checking in on the latest celebrity gossip – is hard.
So, how is anyone supposed to get any work done? I find that when I’m writing, especially writing code, it’s important for me to have large blocks of time when I can focus on a project without being pulled away. There’s nothing like forgetting to close a tag when the phone rings, or forgetting that one brilliant thought that would really pull a press release together because someone walked into your cubicle.
That’s why this article, in Wired UK, really intrigued me:
Digital activist Ethan Zuckerman has suggested that facilities which simulate the experience of being on a long flight could help people complete lengthy tasks. …
Zuckerman proposes the building of “Long Flight” facilities — warehouses located inside Faraday cages where all your devices are cut off from outside networks. “You’ll be encouraged to download and cache anything you’ll need to read ahead of time,” he adds.
Customers will book “flights” of a particular direction — six to 14 hours — named after the cities that you can get to in that duration from the place the facility is located. An eight-hour session in Boston, for example, would be an “Istanbul.”
Zuckerman has suggested, essentially, that we should create an environment where people to have constant, uninterrupted time to work. I do remember locking myself in my guest bedroom while working on my final projects for graduate school, and this was very successful. But could this work… at work? We’re in an environment where you have to check email and answer the phone and talk to your bosses when they walk into your office. So, what’s an employee to do? Why not take a laptop outside, find a nice bench, disconnect from wireless, and just write? Not practical every day, but it’s a thought.
For what it’s worth, I did ask my boss if he would support this idea; I promised I would get a lot of work done. I got a pretty solid no.