What if I prefer to be distracted? According to a BusinessWeek article, a business research company has determined "...that distractions consume as much as 28% of the average U.S. worker's day, including recovery time, and sap productivity to the tune of $650 billion a year..." First of all, I am curious how they define an "average U.S. worker," and secondly, I would like to know how they were able to calculate a number for lost productivity due to interruptions. I think if the "average worker" (obviously not from Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average) has attention on a job 72% of the time, we must have extremly productive workers. I wouldn't change a thing.
Apparently, there is much concern about work time that is interrupted. University-based research programs as well as the usual suspects, e.g., Microsoft and IBM, are all working on ways for workers to manage distractions. This is all well and good and, for some workers, could be welcome relief from what they perceive to be an onslaught of annoying technological noise. However, I would caution the researchers, product developers, and workplace managers that some people thrive in an envrionment of interruptions and distractions. It's how they learn and are most productive, consciously and subconsciously creating these envrionments for themselves. It sounds counter-intuitive, that someone is more productive when they flit from task to task, but it's true. So I would be careful in making assumptions about how each worker works best.