The great technological enablers of the 21st century – the iPhone, the Blackberry, Facebook, Twitter, email and tablets – provide us with the ability to be constantly and forever wired into the occurrences of the universe. They are always with us: at the office, on the commute to work, at home, and in the bathroom. We can make the Deal on a moment’s notice. We are alerted instantaneously when someone’s status changes. And when we score the winning 3-pointer to win the NBA Championship, we can Twitter that and send a photo of our adoring fans home to Mom, in real time.
But what is all this doing for our productivity? Are we being dragged into a self-perpetuating cycle of constant interruptions, that is preventing us from getting the job done? And are we rationalizing it all in the name of that modern-day virtue that we call multitasking?
Rex Huppke writes a terrific column for the Chicago Tribune titled “I Just Work Here.” In last Sunday’s dispatch, he opined about the sorts of interruptions that many of us face every day, what they are doing to our effectiveness, why we might allow them to take control of our lives, and what we can do about it.
Calling time out on work interruptions, distractions
Learn to deal with those office distractions now, before it’s too late
For most, the modern workday is one long series of interruptions punctuated by brief bursts of productivity.
For example, it took me 17 minutes to write that first sentence. I got an email after the word “modern,” had to send a tweet after “interruptions” and then a co-worker stopped by after “brief” to tell me that if you sprinkled powdered sugar on Newt Gingrich, he’d look like a beignet.
Since work was invented in ancient Greece by Jerkios Dullopolos, humans have struggled to avoid distraction. But at times even a passing piece of dust can be more exhilarating than writing a status report, so our attention is called in other directions.
And the interruptions have proliferated.
A study released last year by the market research firm uSamp found that 45 percent of workers make it only 15 minutes before being interrupted, and more than half say they waste at least an hour a day on distractions.
The study was based on a survey of more than 500 employees at U.S. businesses of varying sizes. Predictably, most of the interruptions, nearly 60 percent, involved email, social networks and instant or text messaging.
Most professionals who have been around for a few years have attended a time management workshop. Whether many of us have been able to successfully implement some of the tips and tricks, is a matter of considerable debate.
One thing is for certain- with the invention of the iPhone, the workshop facilitator’s job got a whole lat more difficult.
What do you do to keep from being overwhelmed by distractions?
Mindtools.com lists some interesting tips to help those under attack from “Time Bandits” to gain some measure of control. A visit to their site might help:
Everyday interruptions at work can be a key barrier to managing your time effectively and, ultimately, can be a barrier to your success.
Think back to your last workday, and consider for a minute the many interruptions that occurred. There may have been phone calls, emails, hallway conversations, colleagues stopping by your office, or anything else that unexpectedly demanded your attention and, in doing so, distracted you from the task at-hand.
Because your day only has so many hours in it, a handful of small interruptions can rob you of the time you need to achieve your goals and be successful in your work and life.
More than this, they can break your focus, meaning that you have to spend time re-engaging with the thought processes needed to successfully complete complex work. (Read more…)
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