According to a study out of the University of California-Irvine, workers typically switch tasks every three minutes, switch projects every 11 minutes and require 23 minutes to return to a task if interrupted.
You might think most distractions are external, but the research also found that 44% are self-initiated. That wouldn’t surprise Laura Watson of Calgary-based Venture Coaching, who says distractibility stems from anxiety in four areas: money; time; people and relationships; and information and decision-making. When we feel stressed, she says, we have trouble focusing and waste time on self-sabotaging behaviours such as excessive e-mail checking.
Andrew Patricio, CEO of BizLaunch, a Toronto training firm, suggests checking e-mail at specific times, turning off message alerts and setting a limit on the time you spend on social media.
Avoid letting others hijack your time with the seemingly innocent phrase: Ã¢¬ÅDo you have a minute?Ã¢¬ Ask whether a minute is realistic, says Karen Turner, founder of Calgary-based Turner Efficiency Coaching. She recommends scheduling brief daily or weekly meetings so employees know theyÃ¢¬¢ll have a chance to talk to you and feel less inclined to drop in. Or better yet, says Patricio: Ã¢¬ÅTrain your employees how to work and make decisions on their own.Ã¢¬