The bad news: The average office worker is interrupted — by coworkers, emails, or phone calls — every 11 minutes. Even worse is that it takes basically that much time to refocus on the task at hand. On this last business day for 2010, turn off your phone and tell that chatty coworker to buzz off. If he doesn't listen? Sneak around, says Gina Trapani, a FastCompany.com Work Smart blogger and project director at Expert Labs.
There's an episode of 30 Rock in which Jack Donaghy takes a job with Homeland Security and gives a stirring speech to Congress so that his office can get pens. Finally, a large box of pens arrives—but it's filled with only the caps. Government is, by its nature, slow and bureaucratic. But network technology can cut through that, and at the same time amplify our access to elected officials and Washington's entire decision-making process.
Needing a practical way to organize this ever-increasing feedback, Trapani created the software that would evolve into ThinkTank, a free, open-source Web application. Expert Labs, a nonprofit lab affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, partnered with ThinkTank and brought Trapani on as project director.