You start with an email. Halfway through, you get a wasap. You go back to your inbox and you have already received two more emails. You read them. Someone texts you in Teams with a “quick question.” In what you are answering, you get a call. By the time you return to the mail that you were writing in the first place could easily have been a couple of hours.
“Interruptions are the norm. There are studies that speak of how rare it is to have more than 40 minutes without interruptions”
It is the fate of knowledge workers, especially in times of pandemic: it is very difficult to have spaces for concentration. Interruptions are the norm. There are studies that speak of how rare it is to have more than 40 uninterrupted minutes. That is why it is so common to think at the end of the day: “What have I done today?
The most likely answer is that you haven’t stopped doing things, but only a fraction of your day has been productive. In 2018, software company Rescue Time found that the average user studied only got one hour and 12 minutes of productive time per day without interruptions. Not on the flip side, that’s the sum total of various moments throughout the day. Is this really the world of work we want?
Constant communications are spelling the end of productivity for those who get the job done thinkingusually in front of a computer. It is time to change habits and even work systems so that we no longer get out of hand. This is especially crucial for team leaders and managers, who are the most in demand. Faced with the fragmentation of our work routines, the solution is the grouping of tasks, communications and attention.
Closed to interruptions
Many people only find effective time to do activities that require concentration very early in the morning or at the end of the day, when most are no longer working. Or worse, during the weekends. Doing the main part of work outside of working hours is absurd.
“If you don’t plan your day, someone else will do it for you,” said Nir Eyal, an expert on human behavior and author of the book. ‘Indistractable‘(which could be translated as’ Impossible to distract’).
Being available is just as important as protecting care. The ‘focus times’ should be the norm in companies. Blocks of time in which workers can say without fear: I am focused, do not bother me. Moments in which all communication (email, networks, chats …) can be turned off to avoid distractions, always leaving an open channel for the urgent (for example, the telephone). They should be given as much priority as meetings.
Wasting time, wasting money
Thinking that you have to be available to answer all the time is crazy. According to a report by the Radicati group, in 2019 an average worker dealt with 129 work emails per day. Or what is the same: 16 per hour, or one every four minutes. This data would be even higher if we included WhatsApp messages or corporate chats.
It is exhausting to deal with so much information and it also has a direct impact on the income statement. Jonathan Spira, author of ‘Overloaded! How dangerous it is for your organization to have too much information ‘, he estimated that outages waste 28 billion hours a year, a loss of nearly $ 1 trillion to the US economy.
How to efficiently rebuild the broken modus operandi of the current working system is the centerpiece of productivity expert Cal Newport’s latest book called ‘A world without email’. The solution is to end what he calls “the hyperactive hive mind” and which he defines as: “The workflow centered around constant conversation, which is fed by messages without structure or planning, delivered through communication tools. digital like e-mail or instant messaging services ”.
Open to interruptions
Newport shows in this work that it is not so naive to think that it is possible to have a world of work with fewer interruptions. One of the strategies he proposes is establish moments where interruption is welcome. Something like the hours of tutoring for teachers, but in the world of work. This is especially revolutionary for replace ping-pong of emails that is created to deal with frequent and less urgent activities that require coordination.
This methodology is already used successfully by some companies, such as Basecamp, and it works for them. Each employee marks the hours available for interruptions per day, based on the previously agreed policy.
Another action that it also helps is to receive all interruptions at once. This is something easy to do digitally, setting specific times of the day to check email or networks in bulk. I have used it successfully to ‘disengage’ from my dependency on email
In the anti-disruption revolution you also have to fight against yourself. There are studies that demonstrate that it is almost as common to be interrupted as it is to be interrupted by you. Many times we do it unconsciously, talking to the person next to us or constantly checking social networks when we are stressed.
With these actions, you are killing your productivity. Our minds lose effectiveness when we change context and task. Every time we get distracted, it is estimated that it takes us up to 23 minutes to get back on track. original task.
Sometimes the change of context or ‘context switching’ is required by the work itself, when several projects are carried out at the same time or one is autonomous. In those cases, lOr it is better to try to group similar questions or from the same project as much as possible. This will minimize the exhaustion resulting from entering and exiting each task, from that fragmentation of knowledge.
Some computers recommend defragmenting your hard drive from time to time to be faster. In this process, files are rearranged and grouped, thus leaving as much free space as possible together. It is time to learn about machines and defragment our work routines.