If you're reading this blog post at work, it probably means you're distracted. Don't worry. You're not alone. Rachel Emma Silverman of the Wall Street Journal reports that academic studies have found that office workers go off-task—either because someone distracts them or they, well, distract themselves—about every three minutes.
Silverman explains that companies are complaining that distraction is causing problems, but "modern workday seems custom-built to destroy individual focus," what with open-plan offices that are good for talking with co-workers, plus internal emails, and that dreaded social media. That said, Silverman adds that some distraction can be good because workers will work more quickly if they know that some point they will waste time. And the Internet isn't always the source of problems: "occasional, undemanding distractions" like looking around on the Web can make people more creative and alert.
But, boy, is distraction a time-suck. Gloria Mack, a professor at University of California, Irvine who studies "digital distraction," says that getting back on track can take about 23 minutes. We tried to count how many times we got distracted when writing this post, but failed. The count was just too high.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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