Interruptions in workplace cost productivity, experts say

Weatherford-based business coach and adviser Bill Bendure said his clients are addressing the interruption issue in team training that encourages workers to spend the bulk of their time working on important issues, including planning, preparation and relationship-building.
by Paula Burkes Modified: May 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: May 4, 2014
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“Got a minute?”

Answering “yes” to the common workplace question can cost workers hours in lost productivity, and their companies untold profits, workplace experts say.

“You don’t just give up a minute,” said Los Angeles business consultant Edward G. Brown, who’s publishing a book on recovering stolen time. Rather, interruptions, he said, cost workers their energy, enthusiasm and work enjoyment, and the U.S. economy, an estimated $588 billion a year, according to Basex Research.

Time bandits often contribute to errors and cause workers frustration, irritability and worry over having less time to accomplish their work, Brown said.

“There’s the diversion itself and then the restart, or reassembling the resources, thoughts and readiness,” he said.

Employees’ biggest disruptors often are their own bosses, Brown said.

“Our bosses have total authority over time and don’t realize when they take our time, they’re losing their investment in our time,” he said.

Brown said workers should have polite conversations with their supervisors about allowing them to create blocks of time to become more effective. “Promise them that if they give you a reasonable amount of time, you’ll use any surplus time to increase your productivity,” he said.

Time training

Weatherford-based business coach and adviser Bill Bendure said his clients are addressing the interruption issue in team training that encourages workers to spend the bulk of their time working on important issues, including planning, preparation and relationship-building.

“Team members are trained to identify and accomplish the big rocks — or what’s first and the most important — in each of their roles for the week,” Bendure said. “They must manage by saying ‘no’ to unimportant activities.”

Melissa Bogle, manager of development for GableGotwals law firm in Tulsa, and the recruiters of Oklahoma City-based Principal Technologies Inc. staffing company regularly set aside time for certain tasks.


by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Tips to stop interruptions

* Personalize the cost. When you calculate the personal time lost to interruptions, you’ll be inspired to block disruptions. A quiz and cost calculator is available at stwm.com.

* Carve out time for important tasks. Aside from emergencies, allow no interruptions. Politely and cheerfully explain to supervisors and coworkers why the “time lock” is best for everyone.

* Dedicate most of your time to your most important contributions. These likely will include work proposals or projects due that day and grander matters like an outline for a new charitable foundation or daily text to your kid at college.

* Set personal deadlines. To avoid the Internet or other distractions, meditatively focus on tasks with the mantra “calm.”

* Batch time for repetitive or homogeneous tasks. You’ll save more time and energy, say returning calls and emails collectively, than handling tasks as they arise.

SOURCE: Edward G. Brown, author of “The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had” due out in August, and co-founder of the Los Angeles-based Cohen Brown Management Group.

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