Getting a sound or text alert when someone has a question on Slack or when a new sales lead comes in sounds great in theory. But how long before those “helpful” alerts start sending your team’s productivity down the drain?
The use of technology solutions has helped many businesses thrive, but if those cloud services aren’t properly managed, they can lead to unwanted distractions.
It turns out that distractions are causing a number of problems in offices, including:
- Lost productivity
- Increased mistakes
- Feeling of being overwhelmed
Constant interruptions throughout the day can leave someone feeling like they’ve been given more workload than they can possibly handle. Yet, when non-interrupted, they’d have no problem handling the same number of tasks.
People that experience frequent interruptions to their workday report a 9% higher exhaustion rate than those that don’t. Productivity also tanks, because they actually can’t get much done with constant distractions, and it takes a person an average of 23-25 minutes to return to the same “concentration space” they were in before the interruption.
Being interrupted for just 2.8 seconds causes a person to make twice as many errors in their work.
While interruptions come in various ways, a big one that we’re doing to ourselves is through the use of alerts. All those pings, screen banners, texts, and other app alerts break our concentration and often get us off track.
How do you balance the alerts you have to have with the need to also work without constant distractions? We’ll go through several tips below to free yourself from alert overload.
Smart Ways to Manage Your Alerts & Reduce Interruptions
We often feel at the mercy of our alerts. Team communication platforms and apps like WhatsApp were designed for “real-time” communication, but that’s not practical when you’re also trying to get work done at the same time.
No one can be available for impromptu discussions 24/7 and also expect to have time to concentrate on a task. Using these tips below will help you get control of your alerts instead of letting them control you.
Turn Off Email Alert Banners
Whether you use Windows or Mac, their mail programs default to telling you any time a message comes in. Not only does this constantly take your attention away from a task, anyone that’s done a screenshare on video conference, knows it can also be embarrassing if the wrong incoming email banner comes across the screen.
Most email programs are set to check email fairly frequently (5-15 minutes), which makes those banners a major distraction. Turn them off, and instead decide when you’ll be checking email during your workflow.
Prioritize Your App Alerts
Do you need to know every time someone posts a message in Microsoft Teams that isn’t directed at you? Is it really productive for that popular tweet you made to ping your phone with each “like?”
Take a serious look at the different business (and personal) apps you use and go through the alerts you absolutely need, such as ones from your boss, and those that you’ve just gotten use to but are not critical.
Software designers have become aware of alert overload and put multiple options in their platforms that allow you to turn off sounds, banners, get an email instead, etc. so you can stop interrupting yourself with multiple app alerts.
Set Up Do Not Disturb Times
“Got a minute?” How many times have you heard that right before you were taken off task yet again? Just a 5-minute interruption can result in 28 total minutes of lost productivity due to the time it takes to get your concentration back to where it was before the distraction.
Setting up “do not disturb” times and setting those up in your team chat app as standard for everyone (or for yourself) can significantly reduce lost productivity due to interruptions and also get everyone in the habit of holding questions until designated times during the day.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say You Prefer Email
You’ve got a new sales prospect and you’ve been going back and forth on WhatsApp, but you’ve noticed that they tend to text you all times of the day or night, and it’s not usually anything so urgent that it couldn’t have been put in an email.
Just because we have instant text communication available, doesn’t mean you need to use it for every contact. Email is still a pretty standard way of communicating and it doesn’t ping you in the middle of your lunch like a text message does.
Be available for who you need to be available for, but don’t feel like you have to be on call for vendors or customers 24/7 via text message. Don’t be afraid to say,
“Can you send that to me by email?” rather than encouraging an ongoing anytime text exchange.
Managers Should Set the Example
It’s difficult for your employees to manage their alerts and “do not disturb” times if mangers are disregarding them and expecting them to be available whenever the mood strikes.
If more managers knew the dent in productivity their constant interruptions were causing (i.e. a 5-minute interruption isn’t only 5 minutes), they’d be less likely to be the cause of the stress, errors, and lost efficiency that come with interrupting their employees.
Have the managers on your team set the example when it comes to alert and interruption control, so your team has the chance to get more done.
Need Help Setting Up Workflows & Processes More Efficiently?
Technology is a great thing, but it’s important that you control it rather than letting it control you. Excedeo can help you set up efficient workflows that will use your technology to the fullest without hurting your productivity.