Hijacked by the washing machine. Interruptions of another kind.

In many of the organisations we work with, there are open plan workspaces, cell phones are always on and emails constantly flow in. As a consequence, many people report being regularly interrupted. These interruptions—sometimes welcome, sometimes unwelcome—can lead to a reduction in performance and ultimately productivity. One study found that in an average 8-hour day, 3 hours of productive work time was lost due to these interruptions, by distracting the person’s focus from their current task.

As I was working from home the other day, I felt that I was going to have a productive day without the typical office interruptions. I turned off my cell phone, silenced my email alerts and got to work. Before this, and as part of the benefits of working from home, I put on the washing machine and the dishwasher, and got the iron out ready for later.

I then got to work. Suddenly I stopped what I was doing, jumped to the demands of the beeping washing machine and put the washing on the line.

I settled back to work. Within 10 minutes, I was again up from my desk as the dishwasher beeped that it had completed its cycle and was ready for attention. After emptying the machine, I once again settled or rather attempted to settle back to my task, whatever it was.

Next was the iron beeping at me, letting me know that I had turned it on and left it unattended for more than 5 minutes. This interruption, while welcome from a safety point of view, was the last straw.

There is no escaping the reality that today technology permeates many areas of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making life as easy as possible, but I didn’t appreciate how easily I had been distracted and my attention grabbed, and how automatically I responded to the cries of the machines.

We learn from our mistakes and I am certainly aware that the next time I WORK from home, I’ll be doing one task at a time and taking back charge of my attention and focus.

When was the last time you were distracted? Did you choose to be distracted or were you at the mercy of the machines??

Written by Karen