I saw this posted on the 43 Folders Google Group this morning. The January 16, 2006 issue of Time has a special section called “How to Tune Up your Brain.” It includes articles on focus and concentration, preventing Alzheimer’s, making the best use of night and day, and the nature of creativity.
One article by Claudia Wallis and Sonja Steptoe, “Help! I’ve Lost My Focus,” talks about the consequences of distractions caused by modern office gadgets and technology and gives some advice for how to take back control. Of course, some interruptions can be useful, but most tend to decrease productivity, increase workplace stress, and can lead to attention deficit issues.
Some interesting figures from a study of the habits of 1000 office workers:
- 2.1 hours (28% of the workday) are wasted because of interruptions
- On average, only 11 minutes of work on a project were completed before a distraction occured (an incoming email, a phone call, a coworker stopping by)
- On average, it took 25 minutes to return to the task at hand after a distraction
- Workers have an average of 12 ongoing projects
- Taking $21 per hour to be the average salary of a “knowledge worker,” these distractions cost the economy around $588 billion per year
- 55% of workers open incoming email immediately no matter how busy they are
Perhaps the most interesting bit of information is that some offices give their employees colored hats to wear to signal whether they want to be interrupted.