Ted Talk: Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work

Interesting. I’m not so sure about his idea of Silent Thursdays. I work at a school. Silent days would be impossible there. I don’t know how they would work at a corporation either. It seems to me they would be so oppressive as to be dysfunctional. Part of productivity, I think, is feeling like you are supported by a congenial community. If community-building efforts are squashed by telling people they can’t talk to each other at work, it seems to me that would have a very damaging effect.

Otherwise, I do agree with Fried that work is generally the last place you can get any real work done, largely due to interruptions. I can sit in a coffee shop and have fewer interruptions to grading than I experience alone in my office where I am constantly interrupted by other people’s students. My students don’t show up, but everyone else’s come in every few minutes to ask to borrow a stapler or something of that nature.

I’ve been saying all along that I can’t get into a work flow at work. I can only do that at home. I like Fried’s idea of the stages of work akin to the stages of sleep. You don’t spend all of your time at work working. You spend a lot of it working toward working. And if you get interrupted while you are working toward working, you have to start that process all over again. If you get interrupted enough, you may never make it to the stage of “deep work,” in which case you will leave at the end of the day feeling frustrated and unproductive despite the fact that you were doing something toward work all day.

I know that feeling so well.

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