Wasting time on interrupts?


Courtesy of Wastedge.com

According to a study by Time Magazine in January 2006, workers in the US are interrupted on average every 11 minutes, either through email, phone calls or conversations with colleagues. In addition to that, people then took 25 minutes or so to refocus on the project or task at hand after the interruption. The study found that interruptions thereby represented some 2.1 hours of every working day or 28% of the average person’s nine to five schedule, including the time to recover your train of thought following an interruption.

When you turn this into productivity loss, this represents a huge $ wastage in any company.

 Once interrupted, people often forget what they were working on. Once their work becomes buried beneath a screen-full of interruptions, office workers appear to literally forget what task they were originally pursuing. Researchers at Microsoft on a multi-tasking study, found that 40 percent of the time, workers wander off in a new direction when an interruption ends, distracted by the technological equivalent of shiny objects. However, the inherent danger of interruptions is not really the interruption itself. It is the havoc they wreak with our short-term memory: Now, what the heck was I just doing?

When we introduce new technology timesavers and communication support tools such as emails and Instant Messaging facilities that let you know when other virtual workers are “online”, this may save gathering time around the coffee urn, but scant attention is given to training office-workers how NOT to let these technologies rule our lives.  

Too many people for instance, have their email options set to flash them a brief glance as each email arrives in their in-tray. How many times have you heard someone in your office ask: “have you got my email yet?” even when sometimes they work in neighbouring cubicles.

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