Founder Diary

April 27, 2023

Interruption quadruple-whammy

Interruption quadruple-whammy

Devices don’t give a damn about your focus.

The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
The Brick Layer newsletter banner featuring a hamster with a trowel. The hamster is leaning on a brick wall under construction.
Nikita Kazhin's headshot

Nikita Kazhin

Co-founder at Brick

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Hey friend 👋,

Here are 3 more bricks to help you build your time independence:

  • 1 down-to-earth study breakdown

  • 1 quick tip

  • 1 link

This one is a 4-minute read unless you want to savor it.

Let’s get to it. 

1 study: interruptions are bad for you. Exactly how bad?

Interruptions hurt your focus and make hitting your goals difficult.

But you already knew that. It’s an established scientific fact.

Problem is, knowing ≠ acting

You know something is bad for you but still stick to business as usual. Think bad posture, for example.

When knowledge is too vague, it feels like the problem almost doesn’t affect you directly. That’s where specifics help. The gorier the better (think pictures of deadly car crashes for seat belts).

Tons of studies have established the fact that interruptions are a big no-no but haven’t shown exactly how the disruption works.

This new research fills the gap. Here are the four horses of focus-o-calypse:

  1. If your work is interrupted, you perform it slower. Plus, we easily switch from a primary task to a secondary task, but not the other way around.

  2. You get annoyed by interruptions. This emotional charge takes tons of mental bandwidth away from the task. And the more challenging the task, the more annoyed you get at interruptions. Which means interrupting a priority is especially costly. But since priorities take more time to move the needle on, they’re also most likely to be interrupted. Fantastic 🤷

  3. When key work is interrupted by less important tasks, anxiety also shoots up. Annoyed and anxious? Already a recipe for disaster. So here’s the final hit:

  4. We perceive interrupted tasks as more difficult.

Simple? Yes.

Terrifying? Also yes.

I could end this with a loud statement like: “Time to kill all your interruptions.” But I won’t.

There is no quick fix.

There’s one cool idea though… ⬇️

1 Quick Tip/Business idea: Attention manager

It’s not often that you come across a business idea in a study. But that’s exactly the case with the article above. The authors emphasized one simple, but profound problem:

In human-human interactions, it’s somewhat common to avoid interrupting someone else’s work and wait for a good moment when they aren’t engaged in deep work instead.

Our devices though?

They don’t give a damn. They don’t know and they don’t want to know.

Yes, there are some workarounds to keep interruptions at bay. Most notably, focus modes.

But they can be blunt tools. Inflexible and not nearly smart enough.

So the authors of the paper had an idea…

What if next-gen apps knew how to replicate human-human interactions as much as possible? What if they could know when a good moment is for which notifications, emails, or reminders?

They call such an algorithm an Attention manager.

So, I kept thinking. What if you could use AI to act as your personal attention manager? It would take some work, but if it panned out, this AI could learn your schedule, track your work engagement levels, and bring you the right stuff at exactly the right time. (Preferably without sending any of your sensitive data anywhere.)

I believe it’s probably very much possible even with the present level of AI.

If you can develop such an algorithm, you’ll get yourself a bottomless market of overwhelmed folks begging you to take their money.

Think about it. Or pass it along to someone who wants to think about it.

Meanwhile, do use focus modes. Here’s my explainer what they’re actually good for (hint: it’s about teaching notifications to know their place).

1 link: a 30-day break for your newsletter

After my big newsletter revamp last week, I got a question:

How to set up a 30-day break that you can find at the bottom of all my emails these days?

Just don’t click it right now, okay? Let me tell you about it instead.

I put together a super-short guide (with gifs and a 2-min video) that can help you implement this feature in no time.

If you have a newsletter, this can be a serious tool to slash the outflow of subscribers who’re dealing with a lot right now or need some space for a while, but don’t necessarily want to part ways forever.

Hope this helps.

And if you don’t have a newsletter, maybe you have a friend who can benefit from this.

Thanks for reading.

Let’s keep building together. One brick at a time.

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