Interruptions cause more mistakes among more skilled workers

file5131238794259We’ve all had that moment where a small interruption has derailed our entire train of thought.

A new study from Michigan State University finds that the phenomena is actually more pronounced in higher skilled workers.


Study authors say the better we get at a task, the faster we get.  And As our speed increases our ability to remember exactly what we were doing gets muddled.

Erik Altmann is the lead author on the study. He said when we’re interrupted it can be hard to remember exactly what it was we were doing before.

“They way to understand that is by analogy to visual attention. If you look at a couple of objects and they are really close together it is hard to separate them as opposed to far apart. And when you think about your memory if you have events in your memory that are close together in time it’s harder to separate them.”

Altmann said especially in emergency rooms or intensive care units, having ways of reminding yourself where you left off in a task is vital.