Celebrating No Interruptions Day

Published: Dec 30, 2022

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New Year’s Eve is right around the corner, but there’s yet another reason to celebrate on December 31st—that’s right, it’s No Interruptions Day! On this day, we take extra care to not let ourselves become distracted at work, while putting more time and energy into our daily tasks. Today we’re going to learn a bit about the history of No Interruptions Day, as well as its benefits and some ways in which we can celebrate. Let’s begin.

The History of No Interruptions Day

No Interruptions Day has a somewhat complex background. In the 1920s, a Russian psychologist named Bluma Zeigarnik began work on a new theory that dealt with the psychological effects of distractions and interruptions at work. Zeigarnik stated that workers recall unfinished, or interrupted tasks more often than ones they’ve already completed. In addition to Zeigarnik’s work, Maria Ovsiankina’s research found that when a task is interrupted or incomplete, workers feel a strong desire to return to that task and complete it.

Later on in the 1940s, a study on the negative effects of interruptions was conducted on—get this—pilots. Psychologists Paul Fitts and Richard Jones found that distractions and interruptions were the main causes of pilot errors and…gulp…accidents. Couldn’t they have picked a less dangerous industry for this study?

In modern times, the main cause of interruption for workers is, of course, the smart phone, which includes emails, phone calls, and text messages. In a more recent study performed by researcher Gloria Mark, it was found that once an employee is distracted, it can take around 30 minutes or more for them to fully return to the task at hand. Think about it this way: after only a handful of distractions, a whole lot of valuable time has been wasted.

Interruptions and How to Deal with Them

Interruptions at work can lessen productivity, reduce work performance, and can negatively impact both the quantity and quality of an employee’s work. Examples of workplace interruptions include the aforementioned smart phone, conversations between coworkers that are not related to work, personal phone calls, internet browsing, and impromptu meetings.

Interruptions can sometimes be unavoidable. In order to effectively deal with them, create a schedule that allows time to respond to personal emails and other messages; perhaps during a designated break period. Additionally, try to focus on one task at a time whenever possible, and only multitask if it’s completely necessary. Lastly, avoid distractions such as your cell phone by turning them off at work or leaving them out of reach.

The Benefits of No Interruptions Day and How to Celebrate

No Interruptions Day is on December 31st, but we should strive to lessen distractions and interruptions at work each and every day. In the absence of interruptions, the workplace becomes more disciplined. This discipline is an excellent example for new employees, interns, or for those who have engaged in distracting behavior in the past, whether they were aware of it or not.

Employees will feel motivated to complete their daily tasks when they aren’t bombarded with distractions and interruptions. Imagine all the work you could get done if your entire day was free from outside distractions? In addition to being able to efficiently complete the tasks at hand, you might even have time to get into that backlog you’ve been putting off, or make new plans for how to tackle upcoming assignments.

Ah yes, but how should we celebrate No Interruptions Day? For starters, turn your cell phone off and leave it out of sight. Take extra care to not spend time browsing the internet at work, and instead use that time to organize your desk, clean out your emails, and restock your workstation with some new supplies. Another great way to celebrate No Interruptions Day is to talk to your boss about any relevant training or certification courses your job might pay for.

No Interruptions Day might only be on December 31st each year, but it’s always important to avoid distractions while at work. This will increase your work performance, which will not only act as a motivating factor, but it will impress your boss and those around you—you could be well on your way to a promotion!