There is a line of thought that says distractions are good for you. While there may be a grain of truth to that, we are not entirely in agreement. Our only objective in life is to help people make time, and then make the most of it. Having said that, we offer you ways to keep unavoidable distractions at bay and get better at effective time management.
Do you know that an average office employee works for only 15 minutes before becoming distracted? This means you end up wasting more than an hour every day because of these constant distractions and interruptions. And let’s not even talk about the increasing stress levels and loss of productivity. If you’re looking for better work-life balance, you’re reading the right article.
Let’s see how distractions work, or rather, don’t work.
#1 Multitasking : If the computer can multitask, so can we, right? Wrong. In reality, even the computer isn’t really multitasking but switching between tasks rapidly. Every time you multitask, you break your concentration from the task at hand. It takes 20-25 minutes to come back to the same level of focus as before the interruption. Multitasking is clearly counterproductive and it slows you down.
#2 Social media : Are you constantly checking emails, Facebook, Twitter and other myriad social media avenues? This compulsive need to check, respond and react is eating away precious minutes of your day, adding up to several hours in a week. Would you believe that 30 hours of your work week is time spent on email?
#3 Open Office Spaces : There are those who believe that the open space encourages collaboration and team work. On the flip side, the lack of walls and boundaries makes it difficult to block out sounds and concentrate. Colleagues can drop by at a moment’s notice to discuss work or for a quick chat, all of which can break concentration and therefore, lead to a drop in productivity. Here’s how you can decide if open offices work or don’t.
#4 Meetings : Not all meetings are bad. Planned agendas and scheduled meetings can actually get clarity and move work forward, faster. It is the unplanned and unpunctual meetings that every working professional fears. The wasted time is the biggest productivity killer and it can lead to losses in billions.
#5 Food, water and smoke breaks : Finding a spot in the cafeteria during meal times is often difficult, and employees find themselves waiting for long, even for a cup of tea or coffee. Talking of tea and coffee, do you know how often you take this break? Multiply that by 20 and you’ll be amazed at the minutes that just vanish like wisps of steam. This time analysis will give you a clear idea of how these seemingly-small distractions actually impact your productivity.
Watercooler breaks end up turning into minutes spent chatting, gossiping with colleagues. What about the other silent time killer – the smoke break?
While it might not be possible to eliminate or completely change the way you work, you can bring change through small modifications.
#1 Have meeting rooms and discussion pods, so other people are not disturbed.
#2 Conduct ‘only-standing’ meetings as they finish faster.
#3 Stick to the meeting schedule. Do not wait for unpunctual people.
#4 Have an agenda for the meeting and circulate it in advance. Address each item and make sure someone is left with the responsibility for each.
#5 Keep laptops and mobile phones outside meetings.
#6 Consider following a ‘ golden hour’ system. This is when no meetings, activities or discussions can be planned. This is sacred time where everyone can focus on their core tasks.
#7 Let coffee and tea be served at the desk or on each floor to avoid long lines during breaks.
Want to learn how to further reduce distractions at work? This should help.