Morning Routine Disruptions Make Employees Less Productive

Nov 13, 2020

The study found that small disruptions in morning routine led to less productivity.
Credit Engin Akyurt

A University of Wyoming study finds that small disruptions to your morning routine can make you less productive throughout the day.

Assistant Professor of Management Shawn McClean said his team surveyed 200 employees at a large, unnamed U.S. university three times per day for three to four weeks.

"We asked them how their morning routine went, how disrupted it was, and then we asked them how they felt at the moment," he said. "Throughout the day we asked them how focused they were at their work, how much energy they were putting into their work, and how much progress they were making towards their work goals that day."

McClean said routines help conserve energy. When those routines were disrupted, the study participants were less productive.

"Basically what we found is that when employee's morning routines are disrupted, this causes them to hold back some of their personal energy from their work and make less progress towards their work," he said. "It essentially ripples [throughout the day]."

McClean said the study is especially relevant for those working from home. He said simple tasks like making a cup of coffee can help get them back on track after a disruption, and he said managers should try not to be a source of disruption for their employees.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.