Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

Laura Dabbish, Gloria Mark, Victor Gonzalez (2011) Why Do I Keep Interrupting Myself?: Environment, Habit and Self-Interruption, Association for Computing Machinery — May 7, 2011

Self-interruptions account for a significant portion of task switching in information-centric work contexts. However, most of the research to date has focused on understanding, analyzing and designing for external interruptions. The causes of self-interruptions are not well understood. In this paper we present an analysis of 889 hours of observed task switching behavior from 36 individuals across three high technology information work organizations. Our analysis suggests that self-interruption is a function of organizational environment and individual differences, but also external interruptions experienced. We find that people in open office environments interrupt themselves at a higher rate. We also find that people are significantly more likely to interrupt themselves to return to solitary work associated with central working spheres, suggesting that self interruption occurs largely as a function of prospective memory events. The research presented contributes substantially to our understanding of attention and multitasking in context.

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