Anyone working in the IT sector knows how hard it is to get a flow going without interruptions. Working in a small business and supplying support for everything in IT to our clients, the phone rings constantly (desk and mobile) and email never stops pinging in the background. Add to this our obsession with multiple screens, a billion web pages open, Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram etc and there is a huge amount of data overwhelming us.
We also get jobs logged from our other staff members, clients can create their own and the phone calls / emails generally generate work to be done. Keeping up with all of this is hard, and the hardest part is keeping all the tasks straight and on point. We use multiple systems - OTRS and another, non-cool job management system for our tasks. This is a nightmare too - jobs coming in to both, keeping them updated and trying to remember if you've actually updated the job or not. Plus trying to keep on track with a complex task long enough to get the thing done.
I've been working with my guys on being task oriented and not worrying too much about time. If they are working on a task for a client, and it's all billable, then move onto the next task and do it, then their time is being used productively and everyone is happy. This seems to be the best way to work with tasks.
I have also found that when the pressure is on, I leave my dual monitor setup and take my laptop off somewhere to work, usually the boardroom with no direct extension and leave the mobile phone on my desk. The more I do this the more I wonder if having dual monitors is a hindrance and paying attention to my multiple mobile devices is worth doing. I read research that suggested after a break in concentration it could take up to 20 minutes to get the focus back on what you were doing.
We have been aiming to have 90 min stretches working on a single task, then a break for a bit, then back into it. It's incredibly hard, but getting the other staff around us on board is making it easier. With a bit of luck we can continue to push this forward. Leave a message in the comments if you have productivity tips that work for you!