The Headphones Rule

I need some undistracted time.’

This was one of the things that came up in my team’s retrospective yesterday. Having some undistracted time is necessary for getting things done. It’s a good practice to have a consensus among the team members on how to manage disruptions and indicate whether you are open for a chat.

The Headphone Rule is an interesting way to indicate whether a person is open to interactions or not.

no headphones, you can talk to me.

1 headphone, you can talk to me about work

2 headphones, do not talk to me.

For people who do not use a headphone, some other technique needs to be used (like sticky notes, colored lights, etc.). Luckily in my team, everyone uses headphones, and it was an acceptable solution. Irrespective of the way you choose it is important to have some agreed way to indicate whether you are interruptible or not. It helps you and the team to have some undistracted time.