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On average, employees who do the majority of their work on computers are distracted almost every ten minutes.
Most of the interruptions are external - an incoming email or a colleague stopping by to chat. But a significant proportion also comes from the individuals who voluntarily switch tasks.
It is commonly known that when our attention is divided, it's harder to get things done. What's surprising is that so few of us use this common idea in our workdays.
It's not just productivity that suffers when workers are constantly interrupted, but research found that people will attempt to compensate by working faster, leading to more stress and effort. Take email as an example. In one study, email was removed from a group of civil workers for five days. Workers stress reduced over that time, and they reported feeling more in control of the workday.
For many corporations, task switching has become a requirement of the job.
Collaboration and communication are essential in the workspace, as well as social connections. But a balance is required between focused productivity and connectedness.
Meetings, email, real-time chat are all habits. And habits can be changed. Changing one keystone habit can start a chain reaction in how a team approaches everything about their work.
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“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” - one of my favourite quotes about teasm, by Luccock
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