Cylinder

@cylinderdigital

How to Conserve Your Precious Attention Span

One of our client projects needed help with developer operations and infrastructure. The client had grown large enough to need a dedicated Ops specialist on staff who specialized in knowing how to configure servers and the like. This was good news for us.

But this person was very busy, being the only ops person in a quickly growing organization, so they agreed to help under one condition:

“Hey I’m happy to help out and join your team, but I need you to tag my @ mentions as either [action required] or [FYI]. I will respond in a timely fashion to the former and eventually catch up on the latter.”

Immediately, I realized this person was a genius.

Unsurprisingly, these days we have shorter attention spans than goldfish. Everything we install on our mobile devices (or every Saas product we sign up for) greedily asks us if they can send us pushes, badge icon numbers, emails, SMS, and stop by to ring the doorbell. We experience a constant battle to keep this sort of thing under control.

Some choose to silence all of it, which is a totally rational response.

At work, this is harder to do. The ops person I mentioned is “part of” a half-dozen or more teams, each vying for their attention, probably saying something like “this is super urgent please help!” (like I did, shame on me).

Each team they join (like ours) added them to our Slack/Trello/GitHub accounts and send them an untold number of notifications.

A request to say “hey, let me know what is _actually_ urgent vs. informational” is the most rational thing we’ve heard in a long time.

So try this out on your projects and let us know how it works:

“@ghostscript_killa [FYI] Hey we’re going to up the capacity on this server so you may see the bill go up by about 20%.”

or

“@ol_querty_bsd [ACTION] Hey the DNS is misconfigured and no one can use the app!”

You can add us to your team to solve your business problems with software by sending us an email :) We promise to @ mention you only when it’s super duper necessary.

Topics of interest

More Related Stories