It seems somewhat paradoxical that the technologies designed to make office workers (and others) working lives run more smoothly are actually preventing them from working productively and getting critical tasks completed on time. Carl Honore author of ‘In Praise of Slow’ and ‘Under Pressure’ estimates that the average office worker is interrupted every 3 minutes by an email, phone call, instant message or other electronic distraction.

It’s a real challenge of modern working life; email, Facebook updates, Twitter feeds, instant messages, bombard us so much that it’s difficult to ignore them. Some of the information contained in them will be important, and that’s the heart of the problem. Read it all and you become so distracted it’s a challenge to get anything done, however turn them all off and you might as well quit your job!

But if businesses want to improve productivity they need to help their staff deal with these distractions and interruptions. For example, office workers should be encouraged to turn off the email notification on new mail and their email system, and respond to emails in a planned proactive way, perhaps 4-5 times a day. This simple action alone will cut down the time lost to dealing with distracting emails.

A similar approach should be taken with smart phones too. At work, personal phones should be switched off and then only used to make calls, pick up messages etc. during breaks.

Everyone needs some uninterrupted time to think, plan and complete their own work. Constant interruptions reduce productivity as workers switch from one task to another and back again. If businesses truly want to improve productivity then they need to help their staff to learn how to manage digital communications effectively and not let it manage them!  If there is just not enough time in the working day then help managers to minimise interruptions and distractions to their work through our 1 day in house Personal Effectiveness and Priority Management Course.