freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Driven to distraction | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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Ever found your mind wandering when you’re trying to focus on something important or can’t stop sneaking a peak at your emails/texts/social media when you should be hard at work? Sure you have. You’d have to be superhuman not to be able to resist the many distractions most of us have to face on a daily basis (even if you lived on a desert island without any digital devices or communication with other humans, there’d be distractions aplenty).

So it was no surprise to discover distraction is a subject that’s been investigated by researchers. A team led by Gloria Mark from the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, has made some interesting discoveries along these lines.

What they found was the average amount of time people spend on any single task before being interrupted or switching to doing something else is three minutes and five seconds. Some interruptions you can’t do much about, obviously, such as the phone ringing or a co-worker asking you a question. But those external interruptions are only just over half of the overall interruptions we experience. According to Mark, we interrupt ourselves about 44 percent of the time (as in, we break off from whatever we’re doing to check our Twitter page, or similar).

Then, once you’ve been distracted, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back into what you were doing originally.

That’s a lot of distraction time and very little actual work time.

Makes you wonder how anyone ever gets anything done, doesn’t it?

For the record, number of distractions while writing this post: three.

1. Music playing outside on the street (hmm, really like that tune, what’s it called again? Must find that app for recognising songs…)

2. Dog scratching (oh no, hope he hasn’t got fleas, let’s buy some spot-on treatment online…)

3. Stomach rumbling (is it time for lunch yet? Wonder if that watermelon’s ripe enough to eat? Only one way to find out…)