It is no surprise that many people are often distracted by the very technology that is to help them. The referenced news.com article relates mostly to creative work where one needs some uninterrupted time to get their head in the right place to think. According to the article, this takes about eight minutes. Unfortunately, the average worker is interrupted every three minutes.
Even for non-creative tasks, of which most of us have many, I think the constant interruptions take their toll on the quality of work. An awful lot of stuff comes across my desk that is riddled with small errors that can have far reaching effects. I attribute this less to a person’s innate lack of attention to detail and more to the constant distraction of so many streams of electronic communication coming their way.
At minimum, I think chilling out on the email is a good thing. Turn off the alert sound and maybe even the task bar icon. There is no reason to jump all over these emails as soon as they arrive. IM can be wrangled too, most people will respect an away message that states that you are busy, if not, turn it off when you are working on a task. Remember, task switching is expensive.