Productivity Is Relative And Those New Fangled Interruptions Don't Help

from the better-off-having-ADD dept

Last year we wrote about how much our daily work day is filled with interruptions, often due to new technologies. It seems that many workers are feeling that way. A new study suggests that workers are getting less accomplished during the workday, in part due to all the interruptions caused by new technologies. The other angle that's interesting here is the suggestion that these new technologies really have helped productivity -- just not as much as promised or expected. Thus, people feel like they've accomplished less, because they've taken the expected productivity increases into account, and in many ways feel like they're falling further behind in not meeting those expectations -- even if they get more done in real terms. Either way, it's growing evidence that, perhaps, having attention deficit disorder is actually a benefit in the tech world, as it makes it easier to deal with some of these challenges. Update: Jeremy Wagstaff points out that the company that sponsored this study apparently has unproductive, interrupted workers as well. On their website, they tried to post a link to the press release announcing the study... but they screwed up the link. Oh well.


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  1.  
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    Andrew Strasser, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 8:47pm

    An interesting idea.

    The premise I'd assume being that your more used to the lapses, so therefore are more equipped to bounce back from or negotiate with anything that may come your way. I think there is much merit in what you've said and it should be studied more intensively. There are many things you could associate this to really as well. I know I've learned to gain some control over my lapses of conscious thought. T'would tend to make you wonder.

     

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    Danno, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 9:12pm

    No Subject Given

    What workers need is a kill switch so they can at least attempt to enter a flow state.

    Like a big switch that they can flip (with one of those plastic switch protectors)... maybe a key too. So they hit that, and BAM, All distractions cut off, little light goes on outside their door "Do not disturb, Flowin'"

     

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    Clair Ching, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 10:09pm

    Productivity and you

    One of the dilemmas: expecting the promised benefits of new technologies.

    How people work would be quite subjective because each of us has different work attitudes, work habits. Sometimes the new technologies do help because there are tasks that are done faster. However, sometimes we abuse those possibilities and so we end up misappropriating our efforts.

    But then again, this is just my observation.

     

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    Jody, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 10:17pm

    No Subject Given

    Where I work.. 100+ emails a day, Instant Messaging required, corporate cell phone and a desk phone. Not to mention living in the middle of a cube farm and the noise an interruptions inherent in that. In the last 3 weeks I've attended almost 40 meetings, I think I can understand the loss in productivity.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 5:10am

    No Subject Given

    This is a prime example.

    On a lighter note we are running out of water allready in the UK.

     

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  6.  
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    Steve, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 7:40am

    No Subject Given

    I find it amusing that so much fuss is made over this story.
    We have a study commissioned by a time organizing company saying that employees 'feel' less productive, mainly because of interruptions (bad time management).
    Then put in the backdrop of the steady growth in US productivity over recent years. It's almost laughable.

     

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  7.  
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    Dextro, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 8:58am

    Is it just a perception problem?

    Maybe the actual issue is that all the emails, phone calls, etc., are notices of all the things a typical worker (especially in IT) needs to get done. Or, more to the point, that people would LIKE them to get done. All those chores were there before email, chat, and cell phones, but it wasn't as easy to have them shoved in your face all the time.

    So you have all these additional requests for your time, which makes you feel like you aren't getting anything done. It's a bucket with a hole in it.

     

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  8.  
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    Ha-Ha, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 9:59am

    Re: That's your job

    Didn't they tell you when they hired you - that your job is to be interrupted???

     

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