Is Your Success Interrupted by Interruptions?

According to the Washington Post, “Work interruptions can cost you 6 hours a day…”. This may be a shocking fact, especially when considering the productivity within an organization.  However, there is research that validates this surprising revelation.

Researchers at the University of California Irvine determined that the average office worker is either interrupted or switches task every three minutes.  That’s nearly twenty times every hour.  Of those interruptions, about four of them, every hour, are significant interruptions.  So significant, that it takes on average 23 minutes to “get back into the groove” on the original task. People often times tend to get further distracted and take on additional tasks while they are being distracted.  In an effort to make up for interruptions and distractions, individuals try to work harder and faster at the expense of personal wellbeing and often times the quality of their work.

Another interesting component to note is that around 44% of interruptions are self-inflicted.  This is caused by moving on to other tasks before successfully completing the previous task. However, the majority of external distractions are a result of other individuals interrupting via, phone call, email, and text cause the majority of external interruptions.

Although it’s often difficult to avoid distractions, here are some tactics for minimizing daily interruptions:


Count the Cost

If the majority of our day is being made unproductive by interruptions, there must be a cost.  What isn’t getting done?  What is getting done but with decreased quality?


Action Management

It’s not always possible to effectively manage time, but you can always manage your actions.  Identify your priorities and what you really want to accomplish. Complete actions that are consistent with those priorities.


Schedule “Block Outs”

Time blocking is when you block out time (and then honor that commitment) in your daily schedule to complete important priorities with no distractions.


Eliminate/Minimize Distractions and Interruptions

Turn off electronic alerts, unplug, go offline, or simply put things on quiet mode.  If your mind is prone to wandering, catch yourself and redirect your focus to prioritize tasks.


Chat Sheet

If you find yourself interrupting others several times a day with requests, write them all down on a “chat sheet,” or list of names with people you often interrupt. When you find that there are three or four items next to an individual’s name, then take the time to address the individual with the items. Or ask those that consistently interrupt you to use the same technique for you.


Utilizing the proper use of time and action management, as well as being aware of daily distractions and interruptions, and then redirecting your focus is a definite way to enhance productivity and optimize your time.  Practice these tips and don’t allow daily distractions within your organization waste time and decrease success.

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