This week my two most frequent sources of intra-office distraction are away. One might suppose that a consequence of my being left to my own devices more than usual would be that I would have more uninterrupted time in the office. I hasten to add that I enjoy these distractions, and in fact distraction isn't the right word, as much of the time we are working on something or at least talking about it.
But no. While working in my office this week, I have noticed that I have had even more interruptions than usual, and, instead of spending my time talking with an interesting colleague, these interruptions have been quite random.
Examples from one typical day this week:
- Random students (not from my class) stopped by to ask directions to another building (three separate incidents);
- Random students stopped to ask directions to the restrooms (two separate incidents);
- Publishing rep stopped by to ask if I can convince more of my colleagues to use my textbook (short answer: no);
- Student known to me but not in my class stopped by for advice about his Future; I am not the undergrad advisor and the student is not interested in my field of research, but he said he saw my door open and just thought he'd see what I thought about some possibilities;
- Three different staff members on separate occasions saw my door open and stopped by to say hi or ask a non-urgent question; I am happy to talk to them (I even like 2 of them), but ..
I am just glad that everyone has a cell phone now and I don't get the "Can I use your phone?" questions from random unknown people anymore.
Yes, I could close my door. I do close my door if I absolutely do not want to be interrupted, but in general I don't like sitting in my office with the door closed during the day. In addition to the random interruptions, there have of course been visits from students and colleagues with whom I want and need to talk, and for them I leave my door open.
My hypothesis about the increase in interruptions this week is that many of them would not have occurred had my colleagues not been out of town. Every once in a while a random person will interrupt a conversation I am having in my office and ask directions to the restroom or another building, but I think it is more typical for people to be dissuaded from a random visit if they sense that someone is in the midst of another conversation in their office.
My other hypothesis, which I tested as I typed this, is that if I bring my laptop to a cafe, no one will interrupt me to ask me for anything, unless I happen to sit near a coveted power outlet.
6 months ago