Your day is starting good. You feel energetic and you are getting work done. Then an email comes in that you must deal with that involves researching months of paperwork. Your phone rings with a low priority call that ties you up for 10 minutes. On the way to a meeting six people stop you to chatter or ask you to do something. So much for your good day!
Interruptions are a part of a normal work day. When they become overwhelming to the point you find it difficult to get your work done it is time to take control your interruptions instead of them controlling you.
Here are some tips on how to control your interruptions.
- Close Your Email – gasp… Yes, it is possible to close your email while you are at work. If you are working on something important or performing some other task where you do not want interruptions close your email program. When you are done open it back up and catch up on anything you missed.
- Don’t Answer The Phone – If you are involved in something and do not want to be distracted just don’t answer the phone. Hopefully you have caller ID so you can selectively pick which calls to take when you are busy. It is not rude. It is prioritizing your valuable time. You can note missed calls and touch base with them later.
- Take a Note – I carry an index card based notepad in my back pocket. Among the many uses is to take notes of requests people make of me that I can address later. When someone catches you on the way to a meeting or comes to see you with a request while you are busy, take a note and tell them you will get back with them later.
- Close Your Door – My office door is always open. The only time it is closed is when I am having a private conversation, on a sensitive phone call or while I am working on something important. If you have an important task and do not want interruptions close your office door. If you have to, put a do not disturb post-it note on the door.
- Leave Your Office – when interruptions overwhelm you take a break. Go get some coffee or go to that quiet spot (I hope you have one). Just separating yourself for a few minutes allows you to collect your thoughts and organize your priorities.
It is hard to be productive when you are constantly being interrupted. Learn how to control the interruptions and take back your time. It is not being anti-social. It is making your work a priority and dealing with other issues on your schedule.
You do need to be tactful in how you deal with interruptions. Be polite, but firm. Without interruptions your work will be better and you will be more productive. This will leave you more time to deal with other issues like the ones you sat aside by taking control of your interruptions.