Interruptions, especially when you’re in the middle of something important, can be costly. They distract your attention from what you’re doing. And as a result, the quality of what you’re doing suffers.

Now, sometimes you have little control over the interruptions you experience. But how many times are the interruptions within your control?

We can quickly grow accustomed to opening various apps out of habit, not out of necessity. Checking email or social media is often just a click or swipe away. But these kinds of distractions are also within our control. We can choose to give our attention to them, allowing them to interrupt what we’re currently doing. But the question is, At what cost?

Is glancing at my inbox worth the potential distraction it could cause – especially if I’m in the middle of something worthwhile? Is responding to the notifications on my phone worth interrupting the conversation I’m currently having? Is constantly being on social media (or group collaboration tools) worth the subsequent effect on the work I’m doing?

Each interruption comes at a cost—perhaps in the quality of your work; perhaps in the quality of your interactions with others. Sometimes an interruption is important and merits your attention. But there are other times where it offers little benefit for the cost you pay. And those are the kinds of interruptions worth eliminating, especially when doing so is within your control.