What Do You Do About Interruptions?

Whether you work at home or in the office most people want a feeling of accomplishment when they complete their work. That feeling is what helps them to be happy at work. Often it is difficult to get work completed in the office because of the many interruptions and distractions.   This lack of accomplishment may be part of the reason why over 70% of the US workforce are not happy at work

There were so many interruptions in my old office that many people requested to work at home.  With no one else at home, no telephone calls from work, no direct connection to the company’s internet it was possible to work uninterrupted.  Beware however there can be distractions and interruptions at home.  See the picture above!!

Others may have children or parents at home, so they opt to come into the office early and stay late to get the work done.  That gives them enough quiet time to think and work.

Others manage to isolate themselves in their cube or office and ignore everything else so they can get their work done during normal business hours. Can you do that? Many find this a bit challenging.

Here are a few tips that might help you to complete your work in the office during regular business hours:

  1. Email – shut off the audible alarm for email in your computer.  Plan to check email two or three times a day.  Allot time in your schedule for answering important email.  Use a good spam filter and delete unnecessary email.
  2. Telephone – Use voice mail message to let people know you will return their call at a time during the day.  Let people who answer the phone for you know that you can’t be interrupted.  Give them specific instructions about what constitutes an emergency.  Turn off your cell phone.
  3. Staff – Help the staff to understand the reason you cannot be interrupted.  Give them a time at which they can get their questions and issues answered.  Use a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door or some other signal so that staff understands you are not to be interrupted.
  4. Colleagues – Use “Do Not Disturb” sign on door.  Explain to colleagues that you are unreachable between certain hours.  Be clear when they can talk with you.  Set firm boundaries when people come in to “chat” with no clear business purpose during all business hours.
  5. Boss – This one is tricky.  If you are working on something with a deadline, tell the manager about your deadline and the implications if you don’t get the work done.  If your deadline comes from the boss, make a trade off of a later deadline to accommodate the interruption. If your deadline comes from elsewhere you may need to negotiate a different deadline with the other team leader.
  6. Internet – Be careful about being drawn in by the Internet.  Doing some research on the net can lead to distractions like shopping or looking at interesting sites that are unrelated to your current project.  The Internet can be a huge interruption while at the same time a necessity.
  7. Other project – Sometimes when you are working on one project something you need to do on another pops into your head.  Getting up to do the other can be a way of procrastinating.  If you don’t want to work on the project at hand something else that really does have to be done can be enticing.  An example for me would be when I am working on a project and suddenly realize my plants need watering.  Watering the plants at that moment is a big interruption.  A way I deal with it is to make a note in my calendar to do it at another time.
  8. Idea Flash – Funny how you can pause to think about something you are working on and suddenly you get a great idea about something else.  If you have an idea notebook write it down and move on.   No special notebook?  Save it in a Word file and come back to it when your project is done.
  9. Messy office – A messy office can drain you of energy.  Make sure the place you are working is relatively clear of unessential materials before you start working. Schedule a cleaning time on your calendar.
  10. Hunger, need cigarette, bathroom – Take care of these needs before you begin your work.  Any one of these can use up a whole morning because you pass other team members on your way to get food, a cigarette or to use the facilities and that can lead to conversation and more distractions.

Having difficulty managing your time.

Having difficulty managing your time. I can help. There are many tools I use with my clients to help them get their work done quickly and efficiently. Interested in working with a coach? Email me at asparker@asparker.com to set up a time to talk by phone. I only coach a few motivated people who really want to make the changes necessary to be more successful. The telephone call will allow us both to determine if we can work together.

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