Skip to content

The Cost of Interrupted Work

Here's my summary of the findings from a study titled "The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress"


I was reading the product release for Notion Calendar and under the heading "Designed to promote focus", a line that reads "it takes up to 23 minutes to regain focus" redirects to the study I'm summarizing today.

Link to the study: The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress.
I have a copy here for keeps.


It's interesting that the results show that interrupted work contributes to a faster yet more stressful working style.

That is, interrupted work is performed faster (which may sound great) BUT is more stressful 🤔


Faster? You may ask. Apparently. Faster over time but as you aligned to what you intuitively thought, on the onset it's slower.

Let me colour. It takes someone extra time to reorient back to the task directly after the interruption. Eventually, people can compensate for interruptions with a higher working speed.


People in the interrupted conditions experienced a higher workload, more stress, higher frustration, more time pressure, and effort (even after as little as 20 minutes of interrupted performance)

Is it subjective?

Personality factors into the implied cost of interruptions.

It's likely that people who are more open to experiences AND those who are flexible (not needing much personal structure) are less disrupted by interruptions, hence manage their time better when interrupted.


Interruptions cause people to the culture of writing less... What?

Constant interruptions may cause people to develop a mode of working faster (and writing less). Writing less? I'll dig more into this. Being a writer, and all.

So what? Action points

  1. Managing interruptions is good for you. It should reduce stress. Most gadgets now have a DND (Do Not Disturb) mode
  2. Don't be apologetic, if you need more focus than colleagues, partners, friends, etc. Especially, if it turns out they seem to still get more done! ...

What else have you deduced?

Support Me on ko-fi.comBuy me coffee