In our age of hyper-connectivity, computers and smartphones serve as the baseline for most, and oftentimes we’re receiving the exact communications doubly, be it emails, instant messages, texting and more. Employees are better connected to colleagues and clients than ever before. It would seem a natural deduction that by virtue of our enhanced communication our productivity would follow suit.
However, a recent study from Apex Performance finds stark contradictions to these assumptions. For example, more than 70% of 300 workers report they receive over 21 emails a day, and more than half report checking their inbox over 11 times a day. Over one third say they check it every time a new email hits their box.
Louis S. Csoka, PhD and the president and founder of Apex, states that such numbers indicate we’re looking at our email about once every 20 minutes, which means we’re also being distracted from a task every 20 minutes. This is potentially problematic when it takes an average of 15 minutes to get back on track after being pulled away by an email or phone call. At that rate, you’re only spending about 15 minutes an hour concentrating on one task.
While many claim that you can’t get rid of distractions, Sendio’s email network assures that you will only receive email from people you know, which means every time you check your email, it’s from a legitimate source. Sendio eliminates unproductivity attributed to reading and filtering unwelcomed spam. Csoka acknowledges that it’s not possible to eliminate all distractions from an employee’s workday, but suggests there are better ways to direct our attention and focus so that employees can become more productive and effective in their daily lives. For example:
- Staying calm. When the emails and instant messages are pinging for your attention and your cell phone is buzzing, take a deep breath. Deep breathing can help you regain your focus and not feel so stressed from the distractions.
- Take short breaks every hour. Your brain is wired to only focus well for about 45 minutes. When you’ve hit that mark, try to get up and move around, stretch in your chair, or take a deep breath and look around.
- Exercise. Vigorous daily exercise can “keep you sharp for hours” and help reduce the buildup of stress. Even going for a short walk is helpful, and “few people realize how critical it is to move every day,” he says. A recent Iowa State University study finds that only 3.5% of Americans age 20 to 59 get the recommended amount of exercise.
- Block it out. Csoka says we can learn to ignore distractions. With a little practice, you can learn to ignore the sound of your chattering coworkers for longer and longer periods of time. If possible, use headphones or play music to help mute the sound of distractions, he suggests.
Lastly, Csoka asserts that quality work comes from focusing on one thing completely before moving onto the next task. Sendio’s inherently efficient and effective email network, coupled with the above tips are a powerful combination towards improving your focus and productivity at work and in life.