ZD Tech: Why notifications are ruining our productivity and your health

Hello everyone and welcome to ZDTech, ZDNet’s daily editorial podcast. My name is Guillaume series and today I explain why incessant notifications from your smartphone are ruining our productivity. And your health.

How many times a day is your work interrupted by an impromptu and unnecessary email, Slack message, or video call? If you’re a more traditional service worker, the answer is probably “fairly often.”

But in fact, for most of us, it’s “too often.” Because getting distracted by a notification is one thing. But a new study suggests that the flood of messages and notifications we receive throughout our workday has a huge impact on our productivity. And ultimately make us very unhappy.

For one thing, it destroys our ability to focus by constantly demanding our attention.

Professionals spend 58% of their time on housework

Worse still, it puts us into a constant logic of multitasking, while filling its days with menial microtasks. Which completely depletes our energy.

Research from software maker Asana shows that professionals spend 58% of their time on these menial tasks, which Asana calls “work at work,” including responding to notifications.

On the other hand, only 33% of our time is dedicated to so-called “qualified” tasks, that is, significant ones. And 9% of the day is dedicated to truly strategic work, that which makes it possible to achieve great goals.

The overload of this “work on work”

Certainly notifications should be considered an integral part of modern work. But the study authors say they are also “the biggest obstacle to productivity” in the workplace.

Another lesson from the study is that managers suffer the most from the overload of this “work on work.” Yes, because their role requires them to frequently focus on delegating tasks, coordinating with other teams, and overseeing their direct reports. As a result, managers spend 62% of their workday on menial tasks.

It’s no wonder then that daily notification bombardment also has a negative impact on well-being and job satisfaction. 42% of those surveyed say they suffer from both burnout and impostor syndrome.

It’s not just about telling employees to “get rid of notifications and focus on what matters,” the study authors note. In short, the change must be structural.

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