Part of my efficiency quest this summer has to do with email.
I was sort of accepting the constant interruption of email until last week, when an old friend (who I tracked down on LinkedIn, by the way), complained of having “professional ADD” when it comes to email.
My friend leads a major, national non-profit. He is organized. He is extremely talented. He is very effective. But, he admitted, “I get hundreds of emails a day and every one of them interrupts my work.”
We probably all know the syndrome: We’re working on one project and an email relating to another project — or to a social gathering, a family concern, a political issue, or a volunteer event – comes in with an irresistible “boo-boop” (or “ping” or “dong” or “screek” or whatever you’ve chosen for your alert sound). And voila—we’re distracted. In another world. No longer on point.
As it turns out, constantly being interrupted by emails is doing a number on worker productivity. According to research firm Basex, Inc., email interruptions are so rampant (and so serious) right now that the firm has identified them as the “problem of the year” for 2008, one that costs the American economy some $650 billion per year. That’s because every time workers stop what they’re doing to answer an email (never mind an IM), it can take them 10 to 20 times the original interruption to get back on track.
Next up: Managing the interruptions.