So my mother calls me at work for something “Important” that probably fits in the 3/10 or 5/10 buckets, which is a blocking I/O event when you’re trying to debug code, eh? This is something anyone out of grade school should understand by now:

  1. Walking in
    • In addition to calling (see below), blocks visual input if face is turned to look at you.
  2. Calling (E.g. phones, Skype calls, etc).
    • Blocks other tasks requiring conversational or non-automated mental function.
    • Suitable for urgent matters that demand a response time under five seconds.
    • Signal and local state issues may get you ignored to /dev/voicemail.
  3. Rolling conversations (E.g. from a desk away, over TeamSpeak, etc).
    1. Blocks either tasks requiring conversational output (responding) and reading comprehension (listening).
    2. Suitable for when a response time under 15 seconds is okay and you can repeat something.
  4. Messaging (E.g. instant message, text/SMS message).
    1. Suitable for when response time under 5 minutes is ideal but not urgent.
    2. Temporarily blocks text output ON writing a response.
  5. Electronic post (E.g. e-mail, forum PM, etc).
    1. Suitable for when response time of 2-5 hours is okay.
    2. Minimal obstruction when response is uneeded and notification can wait.
  6. Snail Mail
    1. When it involves something you can’t digitize.
    2. Risk of being ignored is acceptable.
In most cases, “Response time” in the above can be replaced with time of notification as well, should you be conveying news. Case for 1: the building is on fire! Case for 5: you need to do ${task} tomorrow.
This is what it is like to deal with someone exercising grey matter. Programmers, copy readers, writers, etc.