How Much Time Do Interruptions Cost You?
It’s hard to get through a day without getting distracted by something or someone. In this 24/7 world we are constantly bombarded by information and demands for our time and attention from multiple sources.
You could be losing up to two hours a day if you’re constantly being interrupted. How does this impact what you’re able to achieve each week if you’re losing that much time every day.
Notice how often you get distracted and who or what interrupts you the most. You’ll start to see that you get interrupted several times an hour. How often are you able to work right through for a whole hour without getting interrupted? Once you’ve been interrupted or got distracted it takes time to get back to what you were working on, if you haven’t forgotten.
There are two main sources.
External – it’s easy to get distracted by all sorts of things – phone calls, email, the internet, social media, noise and of course other people to name but a few.
Internal – not all distractions come from external sources. Our thoughts, boredom, hunger, thirst and emotions can also distract us. Internal distraction tends to lead to lack of focus, avoidance and procrastination.What are the main reasons you get distracted? How much time do you think you could be wasting each day? What could you do to reduce or avoid them?
If you learn how to manage and deal with your distractions, your productivity will increase. Distractions and Interruptions can also be used as an excuse to avoid doing certain tasks – admin, accounts personal tasks. You either avoid them or use them as an excuse to avoid a complex piece of work or a difficult conversation. Or if you think you’ll get interrupted it’s an excuse not to start something.
When you get distracted or interrupted, ask yourself “How important is it that you need to deal with the distraction right now? Is the interruption more important than the task you’re working? What is the impact on your current task if you allow the distraction to continue?
Two thirds of people check their email as it arrives – this is a major source of distraction and interrupts your day. Yet emails are rarely so urgent they need to be responded to immediately.
Part of your business may be to ensure that customer or client calls are answered promptly. However, you’ll also benefit from some undisturbed time to deal with other important tasks, find ways to manage your calls.
If you are interrupted by a call, take a few minutes to deal with it or arrange with the caller to talk later in the day if it’s not something you can or want to deal with there and then.
Open plan offices are the worst environment for interruptions from colleagues. If you get interrupted and it’s not convenient let them know. If you’re busy, let them know that you’ll get back to them when you’ve finished what you’re working on.
Remove yourself from the sources of distraction – find somewhere else to work, book a meeting room, work from home.
How much of your time do you spend on emails, phone calls, interruptions and low priority tasks?
80% of your interruptions are likely to be trivial. Dealing with short-term distractions often has a long-term impact. Find ways to manage your distractions and interruptions, so you can make better use of your time.
Set time limits – only allow a certain amount of time to deal with the distraction or interruption before going back to what you were working on. That way you’ll avoid a ‘runaway’ distraction that eats up all your time – like email.