Research tells us that the average person in an office environment is interrupted 11 times in an hour. When you think about it, most people are constantly responding to their email alert, answering the phone, having people come up to their desk or into their office, suddenly remembering things that they should have done and dealing with noise from open plan offices.
What’s the fall out of all these interruptions? A massive reduction in productivity and creativity. A US study found people spend an average of 11 minutes on a project before they’re interrupted, and it takes them on average 25 minutes to get back to the point they were at before a distraction. In fact, a recent study conducted by The Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, compared the cognitive ability of people who had been multi-tasking and people who had just smoked marijuana. Who came out on top? The drug affected workers.
“People spend an average of 11 minutes on a project before they’re interrupted, and it takes them on average 25 minutes to get back to the point they were at before a distraction.”
The reason why is that multitasking is incredibly stressful on the brain, it impairs short term memory and concentration. The result is that the brain is left in an impaired state. This message is important for the leaders of the business. Due to distractions and interruptions people rarely get the time to think creatively and come up with innovative ideas. We need to minimise distractions and start to focus again.
A recent study we conducted showed that the top 10 distractions were:
- Emails – office alert and volume of emails
- People – office colleagues
- Phone – office and mobile
- Distracting thoughts – thinking of the next thing to do
- Noise – in open plan offices
- Clients expecting instant responses
- Personal issues playing on your mind
- Unnecessary meetings
- Mixed priorities from management
Strategies to minimise distractions:
- Turn off the email alert
- Check your email at certain points of the day, for example every hour or every two hours.
- During important tasks when you need to focus block all distractions or remove yourself from the office environment.
- Communicate to people around you that at certain points of the day you are not to be disrupted.
- If the noise around you is too great look at using ear plugs or earphones at certain points of the day.
Dr Adam Fraser is one of Australia’s leading educators, researchers and thought leaders in the area of human performance. He’s spoken all around the country for Business Chicks and we love him! Learn more at www.dradamfraser.com.au