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A Psychologist Explains Why Ignoring Your Co-Workers Can Make You More Productive

98% of workers say that they get interrupted at least a few times every single day. And, according to health care psychologist Ulrika Leons, all those quick interruptions, especially face-to-face ones, can be really destructive for your working process.

We at Bright Side decided to find out why Leons believes that you should ignore your colleagues and how you can become more productive.

Why you always feel tired after work

Office work usually requires a high level of concentration on certain tasks. But this can be really hard because you’re always surrounded by your colleagues, who occasionally come by and ask you a quick question.

“What about that project?” or “How’s your son’s girlfriend doing?” The questions might be different, and not all of them will be job-related, but the result is basically the same — you lose your concentration and feel like you haven’t done anything at all during the day.

The real cost of those quick interruptions

According to Leons, if someone distracts you during your working process, it can take about 5-25 minutes for you to fully focus your attention on your task again. Besides that, it takes a lot of energy to switch between different tasks all the time. Which is why you feel exhausted by the end of the day.

There was even research done that found that interruptions can waste up to 238 minutes a day. Then you have to remember at what point you left your task and start it again — which takes another 84 minutes. And stress and fatigue cost another 50 minutes. In total, that’s 372 minutes, or 6.2 hours a day — almost the entire workday!

How to deal with interruptions

To avoid talking to their colleagues, office workers use different methods:

  • Some of them choose to go into a “headphone prison” to show everybody around that they are focused on their work at the moment.
  • Others try to physically separate themselves by closing the door to their office.
  • One more way of dealing with this problem is to start working early or stay late at the office to get meaningful work done without distraction.

Ulrika Leons also recommends:

  • Together with your boss, you could visually block work places from common spaces in your office, so that you don’t have to see others when going to get a coffee or to the restroom.
  • You could also agree with all of your co-workers on a fixed “interruption-free” time when everyone can work in a more focused way.

By the way, people who work from home suffer from this problem as well — 43% of them also regularly deal with face-to-face interruptions. The only difference is the kind of people who interrupt them and ask “urgent” questions — for remote workers, it’s mostly family members or other people in the house.

How do you deal with interruptions at work? Let us know in the comments below!