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Interruption Cost

By interruption cost, we are referring to the time it takes to switch tasks from various interruptions at work such as emails, instant messages etc. This does not include the time it takes to attend to the interrupt itself. Several studies estimate the interruption cost from as low as 1 minute 4 seconds to as high as 15 minutes. This includes the time it takes time to notice the alert, go to the interrupting program, go back to the program they were on before, remember what they were doing, figure out where they left off and continue the work.

This study estimates the interruption cost to be 64 seconds (1 minute 4 seconds) for email.

This New York Times article refers to this study that puts the estimate at 15 minutes.