Interruptions are killing productivity, morale, and profit! Whether you’re a boss or you manage employees, if you want to increase your profit margin, productivity, and even employee motivation, tackling the “interruption culture” must be at top of mind.
A study by the University of California, Irvine found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get yourself back on track after being interrupted. This means that even if you’re lucky enough to get distracted only a few times a day, you lose an hour of work!
Basex research reports that interruptions cost the U.S. economy up to $588 billion dollars a year.
I think I’d prefer to knock off an hour early and go on a hike rather than finishing up work that could have/should have been done earlier. You?
Interruptions? What Interruptions?
Interruptions can be divided up into a couple categories: passive and active.
Active interruptions are initiated by the person who choses to be interrupted by the. Passive interruptions come from others. Both take discipline to reduce and remove. Some examples of sneaky interruptions are:
- Email ding
- Watch vibrate/notification
- Random questions from coworkers
- Social Media
I used to text and email Jeff (hubs 21 years now!) from my work with love notes, research I’d found, tech questions, social engagement scheduling questions/notifications, etc. You name it, if it was in my head, I didn’t wait to pass it along. I sent it right then. I was getting things done (so it seemed).
When this annoying little 23:15 statistic kept popping up at first, I didn’t believe it. Multitasking is a THING, right? It’s productivity, right?
My curiosity got the better of me so I dove into some research. It’s scary.
How Often are You Interrupting Others?
Typically, I’d connect with Jeff 4 -5 times a day during my work breaks. After all, who doesn’t want to receive a love note from your honey? AND I loved the instant gratification of knowing he’d always respond to me. It was a way we connected.
However, when I saw how much work we were both bringing home, the stress of not completing things at work (there is always more to do!) I began to rethink my “connecting frequency”.
Interrupting him just 4 -5 times a day, a super quick note or emoji, I could be costing him over 3 hours of work! GHAD. I stopped that right quick.
Am I perfect? HECK NO.
Do I still text him? YEPPER (but less)
While you may not be interrupting your spouse, who are you interrupting with a quick note?
Who is interrupting you?
How can we put boundaries on work interruptions so that we can enjoy life outside of work without work interruptions seeping into our personal lives?
Minimizing Distrations as a Boss:
When we’re involved in deep work, interruptions are costing thousands of dollars in lost productivity. This means for you, AND for your employees. Something to keep in mind as you grow your team.
- Create ‘open office hours’ and ‘closed office hours/do not interrupt’ times.
- Indicate visually when you’re in deep work, that you’re not to be interrupted unless the building is on fire. Hang a tie on the door handle? Whatever works!
- Time Block – dedicate specific time to a project
- Close window browsers, close email
- Minimizing DOES NOT COUNT. Close the suckers
Turn off the dinger on your phone, watch, and computer.
Minimizing Distrations for Employees:
Helping staff to minimize interruptions will build morale. People are motivated by accomplishments and discouraged when they’re underperforming. Interruptions help them underperform, not accomplish goals.
- Institute a ‘no phone’ policy – be sure to give reason and site research. Buy in will be much better. I have friends who have a phone box where we drop them in when visiting their home. They’re serious about connecting! It’s nice.
- Have a ‘no email’ during work hours policy.
Be sure to give staff the reason behind the ‘do not interrupt’ door hanger.
When your staff is empowered with knowledge AND you let them in on what you’re working on, you are creating a team that works together to move your business forward!