How Much are Workplace Interruptions Costing You?

Did you know that workplace interruptions cost the US economy $588 billion each year*? This same source reported that we lose 3 to 5 hours daily due to interruptions.

Are you costing your company money?  We are a connected society and I don't see that changing back to the old way EVER.  However I wonder what the impact is on our effectiveness.

To define what I mean, remember efficiency is getting things done and effectiveness is doing the right things.  Interruptions cause us to get off track on the right things we need to be doing.

Let's do a test.  For the next hour identify one thing that you would like to accomplish. Start a timer.  Keep a piece of paper next to you and draw a line each time you do any of the following..

  1. Look at an email, text, or instant message, etc, that arrives on your phone or computer that you look at
  2. If the phone rings and you pick it up
  3. If the phone rings and you can see the callerID and decide to pick up the phone
  4. If the phone rings and you look at callerID to determine if you should pick up the phone
  5. You decide to check your phone although there was no indication you needed to
  6. Someone stops at your desk to talk about a business issue
  7. Someone stops at your desk just to say hi
  8. You just remembered something you should have done and stop what you are doing to address it now.

I could keep going but let's see what you found.  How many interruptions did you have?  If you say less than 3 you are doing good.  How many of you had more than 10?  Think about it.  If you spent 20 seconds to a handful of minutes thinking about the interruption is that impacting the work that you have in front of you?

I know it does for me.  I'm actually on an airplane with limited interruptions so I can focus on writing this blog post.  :-)  It seems like the only time I can have focused time without interruption.


* Statistics reported by Edward Brown Cohen Brown Management Group in Workforce Management magazine