I really like Sean’s suggestions. A system that could add to them:
– Headphones + Pandora. I gave in and paid for Pandora One and my focus stations are instrumentals – Roy Hargrove, Instrumental Dance, Itzhak Perlman. They help me tune words out from others.
– New Help-Me-Help-You editing protocol. If colleagues submit paper edits to existing docs: “Please highlight your additions or memo your newest changes/deletions.” Online: “Please enable track changes and include a brief list of changes/deletions at the top of each document.”
– A post-it availability policy. Talk with boss/coworkers about using colors or symbols to signal when you are interruptible or not. For example: Green at your cube means you can be available to chat about an edit. Red means leave a note or send an email.
– Stopwatch. I bought a stopwatch that I turn on when I sit down. It gives helpful “time feedback” either for a whole workday or a specific task I’m working on. My phone has too many other distractions to serve this function.
– Notepad. Write down each “most important” task and keep it beside you. If new tasks come in, add them and finish the current one.
– Pomodoro timer. I use an app on my computer but there are several methods you can choose from. It reminds me to stop and take quick water, bathroom, or snack breaks to keep my brain balanced.
Hope some of these help!