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Office workers get distracted every three minutes

Posting in Technology

I'll be short, I know you have work to do (and tweets to check and a texts to respond to and co-workers to gossip with and...).

I just want to distract you for a moment with this crazy statistic on office distractions reported by Rachel Emma Silverman at The Wall Street Journal:

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, says Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies digital distraction.

Wow! Someone else can do the math on how much actual work gets done in a day. It's not a lot.

In her brilliantly titled piece, "Here's Why You Won't Finish This Article," Silverman points out a few initiatives companies are taking to limit office distractions. Here they are in super short list form:

  • Limiting or banning internal emails
  • Reducing the number of projects an employee can work on
  • Using the telephone (instead of email) for complex or urgent conversations
  • Implementing a no-device policy for meetings
  • Devoting specific time as "think time" while limiting things like email and meeting unless urgent

Now, back to (three more minutes of) work!

Workplace Distractions: Here's Why You Won't Finish This Article [Wall Street Journal]

Photo: Flickr/bark

— By on December 12, 2012, 5:16 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure