Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Top 10 distractions at work

You don't need a lengthy break or something catastrophic to occur in order to distract you from completing a given task at work. According to American researchers, even a few seconds of momentary interruption can practically ruin one's ability to complete a task. Interruptions can come in various like various forms, such as receiving a text message or the fact that a colleague just walked through the door and interrupted an important conversation. Such distractions can prove to be quite disastrous for professionals such as airplane mechanics and emergency room doctors, said researcher Erik Altmann who led the study.

The study involved around 300 subjects in a sequence-based procedure on a computer found that interruptions of about three seconds doubled the rate of errors. Altman states: "What this means is that our health and safety is on some level, contingent on whether the people looking after it have been interrupted." The study author said he was surprised to see the magnitude of effect such short interruptions can have. Since the interruptions did not last longer than each step of the main task, he observed, so the time factor wasn't the likelier the errors.

And for those of you who are wondering why then did the rate of errors increase, the answer is simple. The subjects had to shift their attention from one task to another. "Therefore, even momentary interruptions can seem jarring when they occur during a process that takes considerable thought," Altman said.

Top 10 distractions at work

1. Receiving text messages and calls
2. Incoming emails
3. Pop-up chat windows
4. Talkative colleagues
5. Snacking
6. Coffee breaks
7. Smoking brakes
8. Social-networking websites
9. Thinking about personal problems
10. Visitors

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