interruptions, self interruptions, IM, digital, collaboration tools

The One Interruption You Can Control

Email notifications, IMs, text alerts and other collaboration tool reminders have created more opportunities than before for digital interruptions.

Are Collaboration Tools to Blame?

Tools are just one side of the equation. The other side is users. Humans program these tools based on a set of parameters. And users create intended and unintended behaviors as they adopt these tools. With every new object, it takes time, awareness and emotional intelligence to figure out how to use them responsibly. Should and could tools be improved? Absolutely. But will improving them ultimately solve the problem? No.

Our willingness to adopt healthy usage habits is key. Before we put 100% blame on a tool, let’s look at how our behaviors are enabling the undesired productivity, health and bottom line effects of these tools.

More Opportunities for Interruptions

Imagine that you have your email alert set for every time a person posts an update in an online collaboration tool. You get a notification. With multiple conversation threads happening simultaneously, the number of alerts you get will likely go up. And because these conversations are taking place all day long instead of during a set period of time, your chances of being bombarded with messages throughout the day will increase. Both factors will lead to an increase in interruption opportunities. On the upside, however, now you can delete these notifications from your inbox and keep track of the conversations online.

What Can You Do?

In a world of always-on communication, you need to be the one who draws your boundaries. And there’s one kind of interruption you can always do something about: self-interruptions.

You can't control others' behaviors but you can regulate your own. #health #productivity Click To Tweet

With the overflow of communication, the chances for self-interruption have become higher. Are you ready for this?

  • 44% of workers interrupted themselves in a study.
  • 73% of interruptions are typically handled right away without any consideration for priority. In other words, we interrupt ourselves without thinking.

Self-interruptions typically arise due to checking or responding to notifications, losing focus on the task at hand and/or overstretching our mind and body without a break.

Set Boundaries

With messages coming in around the clock, it’s important to set parameters for when and how you address them. Schedule “off limits” focus times on your calendar. Guard them. Schedule “message review” times. Instead of replying to each message immediately and separately, piece together the story from the various communications and assess their priority before responding. Respond outside of your focus times.

For 3 more tips on how to manage self-interruptions for better health and productivity, download our Self-Interru…What? infographic!

Image by Bob Smith, freeimages.com

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