I was listening to the podcast Note to Self and the guest quoted an interesting statistic: it takes on average 23 minutes to ramp back up to full productivity when we’ve been distracted from a task.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Office workers are interrupted—or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes, academic studies have found, with numerous distractions coming in both digital and human forms. Once thrown off track, it can take some 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task.
What I found interesting in the study is that the quality of the work didn’t suffer. (I would beg to differ — I can tell the difference between something I wrote when email was minimized and something I wrote when I was glancing back and forth between the article and the email tab on the screen.) It was just that our stress levels were different. We became agitated and frustrated by work when we kept being pulled out of the moment.
The best panel I went to at BlogHer ’15 was led by Sam Horn and Danielle Faust, and it was about productivity and staying focused. If you click on that link, you can hear the whole talk, but Googling around, I found an article that covered at least Sam Horn’s portion of the talk. I’ve been using her techniques, especially the U (hands as blinders approach). I combine it with staring at the Do Nothing app. (I have the old version of that app which seems better?) And I have been less distracted. At least until the phone rings or someone texts me or Truman starts wheeking for a cookie.
23 minutes. That’s a lot of time, right?