Interruptions are on the rise! A survey by Basex, a U.S. technology research firm, reveals that interruptions account for 28% of the typical career professional’s workday. Worse, on average, employees have only 11 minutes to focus on a given task before encountering another interruption. Astoundingly, on average another 25 minutes are then consumed before returning to the original task, if it happens at all on that day. Other studies show that interruptions typically occur between every three and eight minutes and that once a worker is interrupted, there is an almost 25% chance that he or she won’t resume the original task until the following day.
How taxing can interruptions be? Interruptions make one less intelligent, at least in terms of addressing the task at hand. Constant interruptions during one’s work are equivalent to a decrease in 10 IQ points –– roughly the effect of missing an entire night’s sleep.
Multitasking might be in vogue, but no evidence supports that people are able to offer their best effort when juggling two or more tasks, as the juggling itself represents continual mini-interruptions.
The Mere Fear
Interruptions are even more costly and upsetting than for the reasons cited above. Simply working in an environment where the fear of interruption lingers prevents people from offering their best effort. Often it inhibits individuals from taking on challenges that need to be addressed because they sense that they won’t be able to proceed unfettered.
are the norm, workers shift how they approach tasks, and even which tasks they choose to do. The bad news for employers is that the tasks chosen tend to be those that are less complex, shorter, and “chunkable.” Such choices are fine in some instances. Invariably though, the predisposition to take on simpler tasks or to procrastinate on larger, more complex tasks isn’t a healthy scenario for any business venture.
Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 836 presentations since 1985 to clients such as Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, America Online, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute; a popular speaker; and the author of books such as:
- Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
Breathing Space (MasterMedia)
Complete Idiot's Guide to Managing Your Time (Alpha/Penguin)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, and USA Today. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his websites www.BreathingSpace.com
and through 24 iPhone Apps at www.itunes.com/apps/BreathingSpaceInstitute.
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