The New York Times has an interesting article entitled Taming Your Digital Distractions. Here's a (large) extract from the article:
Is there any human invention more duplicitous than the personal computer? These machines were manufactured and initially marketed as devices to help us at work. We were told they would perform amazing feats of office derring-do — adding up rows of numbers effortlessly, turning our musings into beautiful magazine-quality documents, and letting us collaborate with one another across continents.
Boy, that turned out well, didn’t it? Sure, you could use your PC to analyze stats for the annual sales report due in two days. But hey, look at this — someone wants to be your friend on Facebook! And wait a second: A zany couple decided to start off their wedding by dancing down the aisle, and lucky for everyone, they posted the video on YouTube. And did you hear what that ignorant congressman just said about health care? Now you’ve got no choice but to spend the next five minutes crafting an impassioned tweet to express your outrage.
I get disturbed all the time when I am using my work (and home/iPhone) computer when I am supposed to be working. This is even after I previously closed my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I regularly check news items that inevitably lead to checking out other distracting news stories. One thing leads to another........
One of the most beneficial things I have done at work is to turn OFF my email alert. I come from a generation who did not get email and text messages on a daily or hourly basis. I still get a "Wow I just got a text message/email" buzz. I once even had the AOL "You've got mail" message alert - allowing myself to be interrupted no matter what I was doing. Try it - turn off your email alert and your productivity will increase.
I also find myself being interrupted by byte sized information. Shallow Thinking (first, if I'm not mistaken espoused by the wonderful George Siemens) has invaded my mind - if something is longer than a standard text message I will not even bother looking it up. If I was reading this post I would have stopped after "I get disturbed..." - 'nuff said.