Recent studies at the University of California showed that frequent distractions for a couple of minutes steal up to half an hour of work time of an employee, reduce productivity and negatively affect health.
Have you ever wondered how much time you lose due to requests from colleagues, distractions on the social networks, clips on YouTube, or a 30-second phone conversation? It would seem an interruption of a few minutes is not a big deal. However, just analyze working time statistics and you’re in for a nasty surprise. Scientists say that the reported number of distractions during the working day can be safely multiplied by 24 to get the approximate number of minutes that an employee spends without use, and even worse: hurting himself. Time tracking analysis performed at the University of California by professor Gloria Mark demonstrated that after a distraction it takes about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to focus back on the job. That is, get distracted for a moment to read a message in Skype and you lose about half an hour of working time. Analysis of working time shows that distractions are harmful not only for employee’s performance, but for his health too. Constantly jumping from task to task, distractions to talk or help colleagues, employees experience stress, get irritated and lose motivation.
The scale of the problem
The professor of the University of California organized the experiment “the old fashioned way”. To undertake an analysis of working time, Gloria Mark assigned multiple observers to monitor the employees. The experiment lasted for three days, during which the observers recorded all work activity of the employees. The professor could have saved the time and manpower, by taking the advantage of the time tracker. She would have been able to scale the experiment to any number of employees. Some of the modern time trackers are capable of tracking time for up to several tens of thousands of employees simultaneously. Work time analysis performed by the professor and her assistants revealed that the employees had been distracted and switched from one activity to another every 3 min 5 sec on average. The researcher noted that the cause of distraction is often not an external factor, but the employee: they checked Facebook, Twitter or messenger. Is it really such a big deal? Our brain is arranged so that it needs to concentrate and immerse itself in work to perform tasks effectively. Work time analysis demonstrated that while jumping from task to task every 10 minutes most employees cannot solve any problem, because hard work requires immersion and focus. Nowadays there are plenty of temptations to distractions for anyone. That is why it is a must to analyze your time at work even if you believe that your work is effective, and the time tracker would be a great tool to help.