There’s no secret distractions are the norm of work today. Admin work, executive work, and middle management all face distractions. Cal Newport writes an interesting thought experiment on this topic
and compares emails, instant messaging, and people coming up to your desk; to shouting, yelling, and taking your attention during the 1920s in a factory. “That would be chaos”, Newport writes, “if you walked into a factory and people were yelling at one another, throwing tools around, taking your attention, that would be chaos. Yet that’s what we do with today’s forms of instant communication.”
Some researchers at Harvard Business Review ran an experiment with two groups. Group A and Group B were both trying to complete Task X. However, Group A was interrupted with Task Y and were told they would have plenty of time to finish Task Y & X.
Group B, however, were told that Task Y would take the rest of the time and they wouldn’t be able to finish Task X. This time constraint had detrimental effects to Group B’s performance with Task Y including not paying attention to detail and not listening to instructions.
This could be an interesting way to deal with distractions which HBR calls, “Ready-To-Resume”