Every time we receive a text message, it interrupts our train of thought and our brainpower plummets big time. Which is scary news, considering that the average person sends and receives 88 text messages a day. And a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption, whether it’s a text, email, or phone call.
So Carnegie Mellon University researchers recently examined just how much brainpower we lose when we’re interrupted. They had volunteers complete a cognitive test. Half took the test uninterrupted, and the rest were texted twice during the test. The result? The scores of volunteers that were interrupted were 20-percent lower than volunteers who were left alone. That’s enough to turn a B-minus student with an 80-percent, into a failure, with a 60-percent score.
Researchers explain that being interrupted, and then trying to get back on task, is extremely distracting, and uses up a lot of mental energy. The good news is we don’t have to let our brains be held hostage by interruptions, and it’s possible to prevent brain drain.
The trick? Always expect interruptions. The researchers found that volunteers who expected an interruption were hyper focused. And their test scores improved by a whopping 43-percent. Researchers believe they either used extra brain power to steel themselves against the interruption, or just knowing they’d soon be interrupted served as an unofficial deadline, and motivated them to work harder.