Interrupting the flow of work has a tax

Nobody likes interruptions (unless they are good news) but regardless, each interruption that occurs takes not only the time of the interruption itself but a little longer as you strive to get back to where you were beforehand.

If you are in a flow state, this can take a long time and there is a risk you may not regain your previous level of thinking.

Reducing the cost of interruption tax

There are a few steps you can take to reduce the cost of an interruption tax.

  1. Limit the change of being interrupted. This can be anything from finding somewhere quite to work, to closing the door, to putting your phone on Do Not Disturb or making effective requests of those around you to keep away for a time.
  2. The previous step is even better if you can find a time where interruptions are less likely. [^1]
  3. Develop the habit of pausing for a moment when the interruption first occurs to take a quick note on whatever it was you were thinking of so that you can pick it up later. Then when you return to your task, refresh your memory.
  4. Ask briefly for a moment to complete what you are doing. Most will accomodate and it has the added benefit of improving your listening to the concerns of others because they have your full attention.

[^1]: This could be why many of us are more productive working from home than in an office.