Artist and writer Jenny Odell (previously) is justifiably beloved for her pieces and installations that make us consider the economics and meanings of garbage, weird markets, and other 21st century plagues; in her first book, How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Odell draws on art criticism, indigenous practices, "Deep Listening," anti-capitalist theory, and psychology to make the case that the internal chaos we feel is no accident: it's the result of someone's business-model, and until we reject "productivity" in favor of contemplation and deliberation, it will only get worse. Read the rest
Motherboard editor Jason Koebler thinks you should turn off push notifications and boy, do I agree: I have had notifications turned off on everything except SMS, Twitter DMs and Signal messages for years, and I have trained all the people who can send me messages using those protocols that the only time to send me a message over them is when something is extremely time-sensitive. I check in on everything else (email, Twitter mentions, etc) several times a day, but I don't have anything, on any of my devices, that interrupts me to tell me that someone, somewhere is thinking about me. Read the rest
In the NYT, a pair of behavioral scientists describe a forthcoming Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes article (Sci-Hub mirror) that studied the effect of mindfulness meditation (a trendy workplace moral-booster) on workers' motivation and performance. Read the rest
Working as a housekeeper at a hotel is a disgusting, thankless job. Read the rest
Joi Ito, the MIT Media Lab director, has an interesting proposal for managing his "partial attention problem during meetings." Joi spends between 2-3 hours on email in the morning, and another 2-3 hours at night. In addition to that, he "must diligently triage email during the day." He also has a lot of meetings, and some of those meetings do not require his full attention. He needs to attend only to answer occasional questions or make decisions. So he proposes two kinds of meetings: "full attention" and "partial attention," which can be scheduled as such.
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When someone signed up for a meeting, we would ask if they needed full attention and if so, they would end up in the "full attention slot" queue or get booked a month or so out when my next "full attention slot" was available. On the other hand, if all they wanted was for me to be available to provide opinions or make decisions as part of a broader meeting or if the person didn't mind my partial attention during meetings, we could book the meeting in a "partial attention" slot which could be scheduled sooner. I would use un-booked partial attention slots to catch up on email if no one wanted such a slot.
This feels a bit too clever by half and maybe difficult to communicate to a person not familiar with my problem.
The other idea that I had was just to ask at the beginning of a meeting, "do you want this to be a laptops closed meeting or do you mind if I keep my eye on urgent email and triage?"
Clive Thompson writes about the growing body of evidence about the negative impact of electronic messaging on workplace productivity. Not only has the smartphone extended the working week to something like 75 hours for the US workers in a recent survey, but some daring experiments suggest that when limits are put on electronic messaging (for example, a ban on out-of-hours emailing), that productivity and quality of work soars -- along with the happiness and quality of life of workers (these two phenomena are related). Some businesses have banned electronic messaging altogether, requiring workers to physically traverse their workplaces and exchange vibrating air molecules in order to coordinate their activities. Read the rest