Interrupted Work and Stress

Feburary 22, 2021

Louis Tay

Many of us are so used to dividing our attention when working and studying. We straddle between our project and responding to emails. We weave between studying and social media.

We have become so adept at handling interruptions that we believe it hardly affects our productivity. And there may be some truth to that believe.

A study conducted by Mark and colleagues showed that people can compensate for interruptions. We do so by working faster to achieve similar levels of productivity as those who were not interrupted.

Nevertheless, there is a catch. And a fairly big one at that: Interruptions create significantly greater levels of stress and frustration.

It is clear that not all interruptions can be avoided. But, there may be ways to reduce them. Peter Bregman in the Harvard Business Review wrote: “The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off.”

You may be able to find times where you know you can do uninterrupted work, like early in the mornings. Or, you can turn off your phone while working on an important task.

This semester, I encourage us to find ways to find uninterrupted times to focus on our work and studies. You might just find yourself enjoying these tasks more!

Be well,

Dr. Louis Tay

Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has expertise in well-being, assessments, and data science.  Be sure to check back each week for another wellness tip of the week!

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