Distraction: we all know it. We’ve all felt it. Most of us are intimately familiar with its troublesome effects. The days it leaves us alone, we sail through our work, productive as all get out, churning out great material and leaving our desks satisfied, focused, and ready to dive back in tomorrow. The days when it comes to work with us, though...those days are tough. Distraction makes us feel scattered, inefficient, and frustrated. Even worse, distraction is a pervasive part of many workdays.
According to a study published in the New York Times, the average office worker is interrupted by a distraction an average of once every 11 minutes. Staggering, right? Even worse, most of these distractions aren’t massive. They’re not a piano falling through a car window, for example, or a big fight between coworkers in the hallway. Instead, they’re a more insidious form of distraction: micro-distractions. Micro-distractions are tiny, troublesome distractions most of us live with daily. When we learn to combat them, we do better work. Before we learn to recognize them, though, they can wreak havoc on our daily lives. Here’s what you need to know about micro-distractions, and what they’re doing to your productivity.
Modern Distraction, by the Numbers
Today, the average U.S. adult has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Most U.S. students can’t focus on a single task for more than120 consecutive seconds without being distracted. If you’re one of the many internet users out there, you online screen focus probably only lasts about 40 seconds. Brace yourself, though - that’s not even the worst of it. When our brains are distracted from the task at hand, even if the distraction was a micro-distraction, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back to your original productivity level for the initial task. Here are a few more distraction stats to be aware of:
- According to recent studies, the average office worker spends about 5 hours each week on their phone or another device, doing something that has nothing to do with their job
- Workers waste about 3.5 hours of working time each week on personal tasks
- Distraction costs American businesses an average of$650 billion each year, or just under $5,000 per company
- The average Facebook user sees about 1 ad for every 2 minutes they spend online. If that user decided to buy from each ad displayed, they could spend $1,000 in less than one hour.
- The average American checks their phone at least 50 times per day and 89% of people check their phones first thing in the morning - before even getting out of bed.
6 Common Micro-Distractions Affecting us at Work
If you work in an open workspace, you know precisely how distracting daily life can be. Your coworkers are noisy, phones ring constantly, and the beeping of the microwave is enough to drive you up the wall. These are micro-distractions, and they have a surprising impact on daily productivity. Here are the most common micro-distractions you’re likely to face during the 9-5 hours.