Is Microsoft Office worse than Candy Crush?

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“Why Microsoft Office is a bigger productivity drain than Candy Crush Saga” says one of our favorite podcasters, Tim Hartford. Is he right?

Hartford isn’t any random blogger.  He’s a respected writer with a regular column in The Economist, a series of wonderfully readable books and a great radio program/podcast, More or Less on BBC Radio 4.

He’s talking about distraction, the big enemy of anyone who works on a modern computer.  Being able to switch between programs is a great advantage (some of us remember the old days when only one program could be open at a time).

The internet and email are a regular distraction for anyone with a computer.  One trick is to either shut-down Outlook or turn if offline to stop more emails interrupting

Professor Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine suggests that it can take 20-25 minutes to refocus after a distraction.  It isn’t just external distractions like a co-worker or a phone call but ‘internal’ distractions like our urge to check the news, social media or email. See  The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress (PDF)

Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint are distractions

Tim Hartford points out the other distractions from core work which Microsoft Office has made possible.

The availability of Word means staff prepare and format their own documents – in the past much of that would have been done by specialist ‘typing pools’.

Charts and slides for a presentation would have been done by people expert in making ‘transparencies’ and other large physical displays.  Now the speaker is expected to make their own, often quite average, PowerPoint slides.

Travel was booked by a specialist office in a large company or an external agency.  Now staff are expected to research and book for themselves.

We’ve become generalists, doing many associated tasks that were once delegated.

Candy Crush vs. Microsoft Office

The big difference between Candy Crush and Office is, of course, usefulness.  Microsoft Office has it’s downsides in the real world but, unlike games, Word, Excel and PowerPoint are useful tools.

Not sure I agree with the clickbait headline but it’s an interesting read and something to think about in your own work and workplace.

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