Create Quiet Time
Yes, this is exactly the second paragraph, Neal Ford writes about in Chapter 3:Focus in his latest book "The Productive Programmer".
To quote Neal
If you work in an office with lots of other developers, consider instituting "quiet time", for example, from 9 A.M to 11 A.M and 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. During this time, everyone has their email turned off, there are no meetings, and it is verboten to call or go talk to someone unless there is an emergency.
When I first came here to USA, close to 8 years back, that's exactly what I was doing. Checking my emails as soon as I got to my desk at work, and just before I came back home. Many a times, I missed quite a few meetings in spite of being in the office, since every one just used email.
Next thing I know, I became addicted to email and also different instant messengers. Some like msn, some like yahoo, some one else likes Google Talk, and in no time I had several applications running simultaneously.
Did it distract me? Yes it did. Many times I used to login as invisible. That didn't help either, since in spite of being invisible, I constantly monitored the people that came online. And, I worked long hours to compensate for all these distractions.
Now being a Consultant, I can't afford to get distracted. I also have my cell phone on vibrate and hidden deep in my bag, and I check my emails and phone only during lunch and just before leaving work. Of course it has a huge impact; positive as well as negative. Positive being the huge gain in productivity and not being distracted at any cost. Negative in that I keep wondering every now and than if I missed any important email or a phone call.
So, how do you keep yourself away from all these latest gadgets? Is there any other technique that keeps you away from distractions?