The Cost of Interrupted Work

The Cost of Uninterrupted Work: More Speed and Stress

Gloria Mark

Daniela Gudith and Ulrich Klocke


We performed an empirical study to investigate whether the context of interruptions makes a difference. We found that context does not make a difference but surprisingly, people completed interrupted tasks in less time with no difference in quality. Our data suggests that people compensate for interruptions by working faster, but this comes at a price: experiencing more stress, higher frustration, time pressure, and effort. Individual differences exist in the management of interruptions: personality measures of openness to experience and need for personal structure predict disruption costs of interruptions. We discuss implications for how system design can support interrupted work.