The workplace is increasingly turning toward instant communication with the rise of instant messaging productivity platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack. While great for collaboration, constant distractions from instant messages and even the constant ping of email can do more harm than good. In one study from Microsoft, they discovered that you lose on average 25 minutes of time for every email you respond to if you were originally focused on another task. In some cases, it took as long as 2 hours for someone to get back to their original task.
When I’m working on a project that requires intense thought, the worst thing that can happen is being pulled out of my flow state by a flurry of emails or messages, so I’ve been doing an experiment to see if selectively turning off my notifications for short periods of time can increase my productivity. I am happy to relay that it has, AND no one has died from a 30-minute delay in my response!
Most messages are not ‘drop everything now,’ ‘fire drill’ urgent. By turning off my notifications for short periods, I’ve been able to completely focus on the task at hand and, in all cases so far, complete it a lot faster than I have in the past. I no longer have to completely switch my focus to the latest message or email – my current task gets my complete attention.
In the world of marketing, instant responses are highly coveted, but lately for me, this has come at the cost of tasks taking longer than they need to because of those distractions. Recognizing this inefficiency caused me to question my baseline assumption: that I must respond immediately to everything and my productivity has actually increased as a result.