21 May 2019

Ditching the Distractions — Employees Want Your Help

On average, people get interrupted every 8 minutes. That’s 50 – 60 times a day. And 80 percent of those interruptions are rated as having little or no value. It adds up to nearly 3 hours of wasted time per day, according to Dovico, a time and project management company.

To make matters worse, according to the recent Udemy study, it takes a person about 30 minutes to refocus after an interruption. Then, they often rush through tasks to make up for lost time. And are left  feeling frustrated and stressed, so mistakes sneak in.

They Won’t Ask You, but They Want Guidance

Employees are looking for help managing all these distractions — 46% say it all makes them feel unmotivated and stressed out. But nearly 70% of them haven’t talked to their manager about a solution.

It comes down to a little mindfulness and structured time management. We’re not saying you have to build a Zen room with a water feature. It’s about encouraging employees to spend time in mindfulness that improves creativity and increases focus. And then teach time management skills that block out distractions and boost output.

Ideas you can implement right away…

  • Since noon to 3 pm is when people are most easily distracted, encourage everyone to take a 10 – 15 minute “time out” at 1:30ish. Hands off the keyboard, phones down, and breathe.
  • Download a few short, guided meditations and make them available online. When an employee is stressed, calm is just a click (and some earbuds) away.
  • Start a mandatory “no meeting” day — Mondays work great for this. You’re giving them time to organize, catch up, and prioritize.
  • Define cultural norms around noise levels, interruptions, etc. Better yet, establish designated spaces for quiet vs. noisy work.
  • Set up a central gratitude bulletin board. Every Friday ask employees to post one thing they’re grateful for about the past work week. It could be a relaxing lunch, laughs with a coworker, or finishing a big project.
  • Explore self-paced, online time management courses that you could make available to everyone.
  • Think about bringing in a time management guru to show people that time isn’t the boss of them, and they can control how they spend it.

It’s quite possible some of your employees are only putting in a 30-hour week, and it’s likely they feel bad about being off task. A few simple fixes can derail the distraction demons and keep your team’s trains of thought on track.