Last week someone asked me if I was easily distracted at work. I told him that I thought the modern workplace made it impossible not
to be easily distracted. Email, IM, over-the-cubicle conversations, the day is often just a string of interruptions that keep real work from being done. Except, of course, that the interruptions themselves often are
"real work". What they prevent is any concentrated work, any focused work, from being done.
It's easy to blame technology for this multi-tasking run amok, but that's only part of the story. We allow it to happen; many of us even thrive on the constant stimulation. (Don't we all know at least one person who clicks "send" then instantly appears at our door asking "did you get my email?") And there's often an expectation (real or perceived) that we're all plugged in, all available, all the time.
The New York Times Magazine ran a fascinating article
on this subject yesterday. It describes our interrupt-driven workplaces and work styles (I recognized myself a couple of times.) The author interviews several researchers and computer scientists who study how we work and goes on to discuss some low- and high-tech ways our daily dose of information (and interruptions) can be better managed.