What was I doing before I was so rudely interrupted?

I've just read Clay Shirky's piece on Medium (via Rands' post) about the detrimental effect that multitasking can have on thought work. It set me thinking (yet again!) about the distractions that form an integral part of my work context, both in terms of interruptions from my laptop (e.g. work-related instant messaging, the tendency to overcheck email) and the office context (e.g. people walking up, phone calls).

Strategies for dealing with such interruptions are ever more necessary productive work. These ultimately boil down to finding effective ways of saying no to interruptions, either by turning off the mechanisms of distraction (e.g. email clients) or by changing the context or location in which work is done (e.g. working at home, or in a bookable office). I've known environments where people wore baseball caps to denote their uninterruptability, but that requires argeement from everyone in the office, and I suspect that there will always be people who believe they possess an ability to override the rule. For the meantime, absence speaks louder than words: making it more difficult to access me when I need some concentration time seems to be the best way to get things done.

And with that, I'm off...