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Want to Boost Office Productivity? Eliminate Interruptions

Want to Boost Office Productivity? Eliminate Interruptions
Credit: Chevanon/Shutterstock

One of the best ways to improve employee productivity is by eliminating interruptions, new research suggests.

Today's typical office employee is interrupted from his or her work an average of six times every hour, which negatively affects results, according to a study recently published in the Human Factors journal.

"People don't realize how disruptive interruptions can be," Cyrus Foroughi, co-author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at George Mason University's human factors and applied cognition program, said in a statement.

As part of the study, researchers assessed how varying levels of interruption affected writing quality in an essay project. They divided participants into two groups, each of which was given time to outline and write an essay on an assigned topic.

Researchers interrupted one group multiple times with an unrelated task, while a control group had no interruptions. Independent graders then scored the finished essays on a numbered scale.

The researchers found significantly lower quality in the essays completed by the participants who were interrupted during the outline and writing phases than in the essays of those who worked undisturbed. In addition, the interrupted participants wrote considerably fewer words.

"Interruption can cause a noticeable decrement in the quality of work, so it's important to take steps to reduce the number of external interruptions we encounter daily," said Foroughi. "For example, turn off your cell phone and disable notifications such as email while trying to complete an important task."

The study was co-authored by George Mason University psychology professor Deborah Boehm-Davis and George Mason doctoral students Nicole Werner and Erik Nelson.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.