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Here’s one more article that confirms that “fractured attention” – getting distracted at work due to email or IM, amongst other causes- is not only on the increase but is causing organisations quite a bomb.

Basex estimates that in the United States more than $ 650 billion in productivity is lost annually because of unnecessary interruptions- most of them mundane. The firm says a big chunk of that cost comes from the time people take to recover from an interruption and get back to work.

Matt Richtel writes about this and more in a recent New York Times article: “Lost in Email, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast” . As he says the ” very companies that helped create the flood are trying to mop it up.” These include Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Google.

An unfortunate trend, which I see reflected even around me, is that of depending on email for every communication. When I said that we send mails to the guy in the next cubicle, a participant in my seminar corrected me to say that we even send mails to the guy in the same cubicle. The personal touch- so important in developing a working relationship- is often getting lost when we depend on the more impersonal and almost robot- like responses by email.

All this goes to show that technology, like money, is a good servant but a poor master.

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This is Post No: 198 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success