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About Everything Wiki » Productivity » What is the "hydrant theory" and how does it help not to drown in the flow of tasks

What is the "hydrant theory" and how does it help not to drown in the flow of tasks

17 Jan 2024, 00:00, parser
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What is the "hydrant theory"

Lotus Corporation founder Mitch Kapor once remarked that getting information from the Internet is like drinking from a fire hydrant. Matthew Laurie, an online communication specialist, picked up on this idea and called the hydrant a continuous stream of messages, notifications and other data that we receive from various sources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Hydrant is not just information, but a real factory of new tasks. There are a variety of them: obvious ones, such as an email with assignments from a boss, and less explicit ones, such as a professional article that would be useful to read.

The Hydrant doesn't give a damn about our internal rhythms. While we're sleeping, it's just filling up. In the morning, we look at the phone and drown in a stream of emails and notifications. Tasks that were not in the plan yesterday are now "burning" and require our immediate attention.

It is important to understand that this is a continuous flow of information that cannot be fully captured. Its source is not only email or social networks, but also a variety of applications, personal and work calendars, websites, meetings with loved ones and even our own head. We have to process messages all the time and decide what to do with them: react instantly, apply to work, save for later use, share or delete.

To control the hydrant, you can L. Rosen, A. Samuel. Conquering digital distraction / Harvard Business Review try one of two techniques: change your own behavior or apply technology. But a third option is also possible — to use technology to change your attitude and interaction with information.

What methods help to control the hydrant

1. Structure the routine

This technique allows you to organize each day in such a way as to synchronize the time of work and the time when our brain is able to focus best. Monitor your performance and find out when you are most productive and when, on the contrary, you lose efficiency.

Let's say your peak productivity is in the morning. Set aside 2-3 hours during this period to work on the most important task of the day, without being distracted by anything. According to research G. Mark, D. Gudith, U. Klocke. The cost of interrupted work: More speed and stress / Proceedings of the 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , if an employee is distracted or gets distracted himself at least once every three minutes, he needs an average of 23 minutes to get back into business.

Make sure you choose the most difficult and important task. Unforeseen circumstances or additional meetings are bound to arise during the day, due to which matters of primary importance will remain unfulfilled.

As a rule, after 60-90 minutes of intensive work concentration decreases. If you feel tired at certain intervals, divide the period of work on the main task into two parts, take a break and get up from the table. The latter is mandatory — studies confirm The dangers of sitting: Why sitting is the new smoking / Better Health Channel that a sedentary lifestyle leads to heart problems, poor posture, the risk of developing certain types of cancer and more.

The whole day can also be divided into two parts. For example, hold meetings or phone calls immediately after lunch, and devote the remaining time to tasks related to management and work planning. At the same time, you can check incoming messages and mail only twice — in the morning and in the afternoon, so as not to be distracted from business.

2. Explore — Move to queue or Stock — Share

This method helps to divide the haphazard flow from the hydrant into three categories: a convenient task list; a personal library of useful materials; sources of information worth sharing with colleagues or friends. You can do this distribution both in the morning and in the evening.


The first step involves analyzing all incoming information. It includes everything from work and personal emails to notifications from apps and websites. It is important to understand here that most of this does not require an immediate response.

Opening each message and responding to it is not very effective. In order not to lose concentration, it is better to focus on one thing ‑ for example, just look through the inbox. If you can "scan" them in less than two minutes, do it. If not, add it to the list of tasks that you need to return to later.

Analyze the incoming traffic twice a day. When you do this in the morning, ask yourself how urgent each message is. This way you will be able not to waste precious time that you would like to devote to the most important task of the day.

Move to queue or stock

At the next stage, non-urgent incoming calls, which will take more than two minutes to complete, can be divided into two directions.

The first is what you need to read, such as online resources that you want to study and think about. Save them to favorites in the browser or in applications like Instapaper, Pocket and similar. A personal library of useful materials is formed from these stocks.

The second is what needs to be done. Transfer your tasks to a paper diary or an electronic planner, for example or Todoist.


The last step is to post links to your favorite materials in your personal accounts or forward them to work chats if you are sure that they will be interesting and useful to colleagues.

3. Finish what you started

This applies to all the tasks that you do. And here a proven productivity system is useful for managing your task list and your own time. For example, the popular Getting Things Done or any other that is convenient and familiar to you personally.

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08 May 2023, 07:26    0    0
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