Avoid Interruptions To Gain Control of Your Time

One of the biggest complaints that managers have is the amount of work they have to do.

Many feel simply overwhelmed, and stressed out. But when we see surveys of how these managers actually use their time, we often find that the biggest culprit is the allowing of interruptions to fill their otherwise important time schedule. Do you find this to be the case? Are you often interrupted by things or people that take you off track, and then find it difficult to get back on track again?

Here are some ideas that might help if you find yourself in this position:

* Allocate specific time to specific jobs and say that you are going to do this job excellently. It will keep you focused and concentrated. If an interruption occurs (the phone rings, a person knocks on your door or approaches your desk), spend a few seconds finishing off your key point, then give full attention to the phone call or person.

If you find that the interruption is not as important as what your were concentrating on before, say that you will call back in xx minutes, or you will see the person in xx minutes, and go back to the specific thing that was more important. When you have finished the important item, you can them proactively make that call or speak to that person on your terms.

* If part of your job involves frequent consultations with your colleagues, schedule a specific time on your calendar or in Outlook for those meetings. Then let it be known that you’re always available, say, from 11:00 to 12:30, or 3:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon.

An open-door policy then becomes a time-saver instead of a time waster.

* When someone comes into your office uninvited, stand up to talk. If you let your visitor arrange himself comfortably in a chair, you’re in for a long interruption.

If you control the length of the interruption, you can get back to your more important things more quickly.

* If your visitor has something really important to talk about, ask him to give you a few minutes to complete what you’re doing, and then go to his office.

That way you can control the length of the conversation.

* Check if you can schedule quick, short meetings with team members instead of enduring ad-hoc interruptions.

That way, you maintain control.

* Schedule specific times when you will devote complete concentrated effort in dealing with emails.

If, like me, you receive hundreds of emails a day, that will assist you in getting rid of meaningless interruptions during your busy day.

Remember, the interrupter will not know they are causing you problems. It is up to you to gain that time back so you can control the nature of your work. It’s impossible to manage or control time, as it does what it wants to do.

But you can manage yourself and the tasks you have to accomplish.

Be aware of how much time interruptions take in your day and see if you can at least reduce the time they waste for you.

That way, you start to maintain control and become less stressed.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 12 January, 2011

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