How Interruptions Can Wreck Your Productivity

Published: November 16, 2010
By: Faye Hollands

Do you ever feel like you’re being pulled from pillar to post, jumping from one task to another whilst being constantly interrupted by the people and technology around you?  It’s a common scenario in most workplaces these days, and many of us are so attuned to working this way it’s become ‘normal’.  However allowing your attention to be constantly divided day-in, day-out, can cause havoc on your productivity levels, and ultimately how successful you are, so it’s important to consciously manage your time more effectively if you’re falling into this trap…

The Cost Of Distractions

Current research into worker habits and distractions shows that workers typically change tasks every three minutes and take about 25 minutes to return to an interrupted task – usually plugging into two other work projects in the interim.

On top of that, we typically deal with 60-70 interruptions a day; more than a quarter of each 9-5 period (28%) is consumed by such interruptions; and by one estimate interruptions take up to 2.1 hours of an average workers day.

If those numbers aren’t enough to convince you to change the way you work, a study from the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London suggests that your IQ falls 10 points when you’re fielding constant emails, text messages, and calls, which is the same loss you’d experience if you missed an entire night’s sleep and more than double the 4-point loss you’d have after smoking marijuana!  So clearly there are serious repercussions involved when you allow yourself to be distracted on a regular basis.

When your attention is constantly divided most tasks will actually take longer to complete, and the quality of the work you produce is also likely to be negatively impacted.  On top of that, if you’re trying to multitask whilst fielding interruptions throughout the day you will find yourself on a slippery slope to ineffectiveness.  Contrary to popular belief, multitasking does nothing other than make you less productive because your brain has to flick back and forth rapidly between tasks, which means you do each of the tasks slower, causing you to waste precious time.

So importantly, you need to eliminate as many distractions and interruptions from your day as you can because interruptions cause lapses in concentration, divided attention, poorer results and less satisfaction in your job.

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Interestingly the majority of interruptions are actually self-initiated.  So turn off your mobile and email alerts, close down your social media applications, put your phone through to voicemail, and concentrate on what’s really important.

Breaks in concentration can cause havoc when it comes to effectiveness which ultimately dictates how much we achieve in any one day, and how successful we are both personally and professionally.

All to often we’re racing around, trying to do a myriad of things at the same time, and the result is that we become more unproductive than ever.  This leads to a certain kind of frazzled feeling that comes from splitting your focus and is very counterproductive.  So take the time to notice where you are regularly being distracted and eliminate those interruptions as much as possible.

What’s your biggest distraction at work?  Post a comment below and let me know…

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Written by Faye Hollands – Director at Outshine Consulting. Faye is an accomplished Career Coach and Time Management Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success.

To receive your FREE MP3 download of Faye’s popular teleseminar ‘How To Create A Career You Love‘ and weekly articles to improve your career and time management skills click here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email fayehollands@outshineconsulting.com

If you’d like to find how to change, develop or manage your career more effectively simply click here.

Faye Hollands

About Faye Hollands

Faye is an accomplished Career Coach, Small Business Coach and Productivity Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. To receive weekly articles to improve your career, business and time management skills click here or book your Free Focus Session here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email fayehollands@outshineconsulting.com

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One Response to How Interruptions Can Wreck Your Productivity

  1. Hey Fay,
    That is so true. I recently lost money in financial trade because I just pressed the wrong button, and it is not a usual thing to happen, when I read your article I realized my focus at was spread over other things as well.
    Thanks

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