Want to be more productive at work?
Turn your phone on silent and make yourself invisible on Gchat, then.
That’s because previous research found that office employees can be interrupted as frequently as six times each hour– not exactly the picture-perfect idea of “making the most” of your working hours. After all, it’s no surprise that being interrupted prolongs how much time you need to finish a job. Researchers from George Mason University took it one step further, though, in figuring out just how much interruptions can impact work quality; if interruptions only create a time delay, and not poorer-quality work, one could make the case for why they aren’t detrimental in the workplace.
The Human Factors study involved an experiment with 26 study participants whose mean age was 23. They were requested to complete a dual-part assignment that had them outline an essay for 12 minutes before spending an additional 12 minutes writing that essay. But some of the participants were selected to be interrupted as they constructed the essay, with those interrupted being interrupted a total of three times (for 60 seconds each time). Researchers then asked two essay graders to evaluate the essays and find out just how much interruptions might hurt the quality of the writing. Know, too, that additional time was added to the outlining/writing step to help offset the interruption times for participants who were chosen to be interrupted.
Study analysts realized that the quality of the essays was, in fact, significantly worse for the participants who were interrupted during the essay process. Also, the word count was less in essays written by participants who were interrupted during the writing period than participants who were interrupted during the outlining process– or participants who weren’t interrupted at all.
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