I really hate to be interrupted, don’t you? In an age of constant information overload, moments of complete concentration are rare; and yet every time I find myself in one, there seems to be someone standing behind me trying to yank me out of my focus. LinkedIn estimates that people spend an average of 11 minutes on work tasks before they’re interrupted, and that it takes us an average of 25 minutes to get back on track once the interruption occurs. That’s a lot of productivity lost everyday.
A few months ago, my day got interrupted by a dinosaur (not what you thought I was going to say, right?). I was deep into project-related work, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a strange, brown form running towards my desk. I turned my head as I heard a swishing sound and saw, um…a dinosaur. Not an actual one (because those kind are extinct, FYI), but one of my coworkers dressed in an inflatable T-rex dinosaur costume. He / she was running at a fast pace around the cubicles, cartoonishly small orange hands flapping with each step.
I wish I could have somehow seen my face exactly at this point, although I think my coworkers probably reflected my exact expression fairly well. This was NOT normal and the opposite of expected on a Thursday afternoon, and as the giggles and gasps radiated and grew through the cubicles (workstations?) behind me I realized something; interruptions aren’t always bad. Actually, it could be just the thing that recharges your brain a little.
The momentary disruption allows you to leave your comfort zone (even just for a second) and go to a place where you can reflect and gain some perspective from the thing on which you were just so intently focused.
I am not sure I can describe exactly what clarity or perspective this particular interruption gave me on the steel shop drawings I was working on at the time, but I can tell you that I didn’t look at the world the same way for the rest of the day. Life really is more fun when it goes unexpectedly sometimes, and I think we tend to forget this in our constant pursuit of productive focus. There have been some who say that great ideas can come from sudden changes of perspective, and that shaking things up a bit from the norm can allow creativity to blossom. Nobody wants dinosaur-sized interruptions all the time, but once in a while, it’s just what we may need.