Think you’re being more productive by multi-tasking? Think again.
Plenty of studies have shown that it takes 10 – 15 minutes or more to get back into the groove each time we are distracted. But the results of a 2005 study at King’s College in London are enough to make a business owner confiscate iPads and smart phones at the door.
Psychiatrists conducting this study administered IQ tests to three different groups of people. The first group just took the IQ test. The second group was distracted by email and ringing phones while taking the test. The third group was stoned on marijuana.
Not surprisingly, the first group outperformed the other two groups by an average of 10 points. But the stoners outperformed the distracted group by an average of six points!
The report says “workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.” (Read more about the study and other things that affect your focus in Leevi Romanik’s article at Entrepreneurs-Journey.com. )
Other than entertaining your friends with this information (as I have done), how can you put it to good use?
You can start by applying it to yourself. Exceptionally successful business people do not check email, take phone calls or peek at Facebook constantly. Since, with the possible exception of Facebook, these distractions seem to be “work” (as in “I’m working”), most of us don’t stop to think how much productive time this habit is stealing from us.
Try scheduling email / phone breaks throughout your day. If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a huge favor and get rid of the little message box that pops up every time you receive an email.
You can also apply this info to your meetings. How many of us have sat through meetings where some – maybe even all – of the participants are busying typing and clicking away at their phones and laptops? If the subject of the meeting is important enough to warrant a meeting in the first place, it’s important enough for participants to give it their undivided attention. Try making your meetings email / text message / facebook / twitter free. You’ll get out of the meeting faster and with better results.
Note: If your meeting participants balk at turning off their lifelines, you could always serve brownies. Apparently it’ll be more productive.
If you’ve got stories about distractions and productivity, share them here.