Interruptions Always Matter

Decades ago,  we did a little study about how interruptions affect knowledge workers, accountants.  Adversely was clear.

Interruptions require a restart

Why does that matter? If you are doing something with just a single variable and a time line that never changes, interruptions don’t matter. Like chopping wood, maybe.

Under other conditions, with many variables interacting in complex ways and changing over time, other rules apply.  Interruptions harm performance.

How much? 

That depends on how complex the thinking process is. The more complex, the longer to bring the variables and their relationships back to mind. For an accountant working on a tax plan 15 to 30 minutes.

When Edwin Land solved the instant photography problem, he and his associate worked more than 70 continuous hours. Land claimed if they had stopped sooner, it would have taken six months to recollect the barely conscious inventory of variables and relationships.

In the zone. 

Life is complex

We don’t know all the variables and we are often interrupted. We seldom spend long periods thinking about our plans, so some interruptions have little effect. Some are not so subtle. 

Some interruptions are devastating. 

A phone call while completing your tax return might not matter much, but what if you lost your job, or became disabled, or died. This kind of interruption does not resolve itself in 30 minutes.

Most family and business plans make contain an implicit assumption about ongoing income. Loss of such income adversely affects them.

Prepare for possibilities you can’t handle easily

Disability and death are insurable. If you don’t get the time to earn, you do get the money. The insurance and the money arising from the event make the plan self completing. All worthy plans must have an alternative way to complete.

Ongoing income is an important part of a life plan. Address the risks to continuing income.

It’s a choice

If you think living within your income is difficult, spend five uninterrupted minutes addressing what you would do to get along without it. Notice that insurance works.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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