The Cost of Interruptions

the cost of Interruptions

Interruptions are more than just annoying. They're expensive. The cost of interruptions is high in both cognitive control and monetary costs.

How many times do you think you get interrupted in your day? Either by others or your own thoughts. You’re almost certainly underestimating that number. Yes, even you! And especially the person reading this who thinks they are the exception to the rule.

Interruptions have actually been studied and converted into measurable quantities, most notably by University of Minnesota professor Sophie Leroy. Leroy came up with the term “attention residue” to describe what happens we attempt to switch our attention from one task to another. Simply put, our brains cannot let go of the previous task quickly. Resulting in loss of focus and productivity.

And it’s not just a few seconds here and there. Gloria Mark, from the University of California, Irvine, found distractions lead to lower productivity and higher stress. Her team found any distraction, no matter how small, caused loss of focused thinking for an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds PER DISTRACTION! That means if you only glance at an email for 15 seconds, the full cost of time is really 23 minutes and 30 seconds. Something to 'think about,' most definitely!

During Brain Awareness Week, we're sharing fun and brainy facts. Click here for more information about Brain Awareness Week and supporting a healthy brain!

The Brain Coach Blog is written by executive function coach Mary Turos. Based in Belair, MD, Mary is affectionately known as 'The Brain Coach" for her work helping people achieve harmony using strategies based in neuroscience.

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