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Why too many notifications are killing productivity at work

The workers of knowledge (those who use their minds, analyze and propose ideas) spend 58% of their day doing repetitive and irrelevant tasksabout 23 of the 40 hours in a typical workweek.

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These tasks include attending to the notifications of worksearch for information, switch between different applications, manage changing priorities, or update the status of a job.

The data comes from “Index of the anatomy of work”, prepared by Asana, specialized in management tools and work organization.

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To carry out this report, 10,624 knowledge workers were surveyed, as those who carry out tasks related to their knowledge are known: this includes a wide range of professions, ranging from consultants, creative writers or scientists to computer scientists. Basically it covers all those people who make a living generating ideas; that is, whose main value is the ability to think of new solutions, analyze data and define strategies.

The report highlights that constant notifications are one of the biggest distractions faced by these workers, since they make their tasks difficult and overshadow the processes.

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More than half of workers feel compelled to respond to notifications immediately, and more than a third feel overwhelmed by constant alerts.

Notifications are especially annoying because they interrupt the clarity and focus they need to perform their tasks properly.

48% of respondents think that notifications could be limited if meetings were more efficient and productive, while 45% think that having clearly defined responsibilities would have the same effect.

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When each task has a clear owner, context, and deadline, work gets done faster and with less back-and-forth.

Both generation Y (Millennials) and generation Z are the most likely to feel the negative effects of notifications, as highlighted in the report.

To resolve this situation, the statement highlights that employees must be allowed to use the mode “Do not bother” so they can suspend notifications during certain times or allow them to set aside blocks of time in the calendar to focus on work.

too many apps

Employees have a large number of tools and technologies at their disposal, which seek to facilitate their tasks but sometimes this has the opposite effect. Too many disconnected applications, that is, not linked to each other, generate the opposite effect, since they make work difficult and slow down.

To deal with this it is suggested to use technological integrations so there is no need to duplicate tasks. And prior to this, it would be good to do an analysis to assess which tools are really important.

Sometimes it happens that, for example, several communication channels are used to say the same thing and this is an unnecessary waste of time.

too many meetings

More than half of workers perform other types of tasks during meetings and only 43% actively participate in virtual chats.

Additionally, more than a quarter are more likely to miss certain tasks and updates this year compared to last year.

Excessive meetings also have a negative impact on meeting deadlines. This is confirmed by 24% of those interviewed. If there were fewer unnecessary virtual meetings, they would have more time to complete their tasks on time.

This is solved by establishing meetings that are really necessary and important. In this sense, it is necessary to evaluate if the meeting is necessary and also to verify well who to summon in each case so that there are no people who are in a meeting where information is shared that is not relevant to their tasks.

Lack of boundaries between personal and work life

remote work either in hybrid format which was enhanced by the pandemicbrought with it several changes, among them the challenge of establishing a clear line between personal and work life. Initially, the idea of ​​the home office made many work without schedules and with a supposed flexibility that was presented as an advantage but ended up implying being available 24/7, which is nothing more than a subtle way of extending the working day without limits. Over time, work management has improved, but in many cases the limits are still not clear.

To address this issue, the report suggests that companies provide employees with start and end times for their workday. And it is also noted that this slogan is also fulfilled by managers; that is to say that they also adhere to these limits to lead by example.

Impostor Syndrome and Burnout

42% of those surveyed admitted suffering from exhaustion and the imposter syndrome. The latter refers to the feeling that some people have that the job success they have is not theirs, that they are not up to the task, that they do not deserve it.

Lack of clarity, over-reporting, and lengthy meetings have real consequences that are not only annoying, but directly contribute to these occupational hazards. In particular, burnout and impostor syndrome disproportionately affect younger employees, leading to low morale, poor communication, lack of engagement at work, more mistakes, and even high burnout. Nearly one in four workers experience mental burnout four or more times a year, while 40% believe it is an inevitable part of success.

That is why it is recommended that companies generate structural changes to reduce repetitive tasks, avoid constant distractions, and establish clear work flows and schedules for employees. In particular, it is emphasized to set pauses in the 3M framework

What is the 3M framework for setting breaks

The 3M framework involves taking three types of breaks: macro, meso and micro (long, medium and short), to completely disconnect from work stress and recover energy. Something that is vital to achieve better performance in tasks. Rest, instead of being seen as wasted time, should be interpreted as an investment that will result in benefits for workers and therefore for companies.

Disconnecting means communicating to the brain that no matter the chaos that surrounds you, you are doing well. Work is not the most important thing and you can choose to focus on something else entirely”, underlines Dr. Sahar Yousef, a specialist in Cognitive Neuroscience, in the report released. She also clarifies that these breaks must be taken by employees of all hierarchies, including managers.

“To build a more supportive and enjoyable workplace, the prevalence of burnout and impostor syndrome needs to be recognized and confronted. For all employees to feel happier and more engaged at work, companies need to help them see the big picture to understand how their work is a valuable part of the whole,” the report concludes.

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