Minimise Interruptions to Maximise Productivity

Time Managment CloudHow many times are you in the middle of something important and you get interrupted by a person, an email, a phone call, or some other request for information? It breaks our momentum and mental focus. It causes us frustration. And it tests our resolve when it comes to sticking to something more important. Here are some solutions to this never-ending concern that you face every day. Interruptions from others:

  • Explain you’re busy and set a time to meet later
  • Accept the interruption and state the time you have available now. At the end of that time period, tell them you really do have to get on
  • Don’t have chairs right next to your desk. If you have room, put two or three chairs in another area of your office. This means people can’t just drop in. They have to interrupt your flow and get you to move away physically form your desk. If it really isn’t that important now, people will wait until it is convenient for you
  • Set open and closed-door times, and make them known
  • Meet in someone else’s office, so you can control your exit time
  • If it’s really important for you to work without interruptions, consider working from home, a conference room or a spare office where it’s obvious you are there for a specific purpose and can’t be interrupted.

Email or instant messaging:

  • Don’t keep compulsively checking email. Turn off the audio signal that tells you an email has come through. Allocate times in the day where you deal with email, timed so YOU control it.
  • Go offline if you have to. If you’re uninterruptable, prove it.

Information Requests:

  • Give people who work for you enough authority and information to deal with these matters for you. Don’t be a hoarder of information so that people have to come to you and only you
  • Let your team know you are incommunicado for a time period
  • If you make promises, keep them. Then people won’t have to chase you up when you don’t want them to


  • If you’re in the middle of something, don’t take unscheduled calls. Have set times when people can reach you
  • Make a list of calls you are going to make and bunch them together, so you control the time it takes
  • Call people at lunch time or before closing time, so conversations are short and to the point
  • Ask people who call you what specifically you can do for them, and say ‘I only have ten minutes. Can we get this done in that time?’
  • Leave your phone off in the evenings. Interruptions while you’re away from work should be seen as interfering with the rest of your life with people who deserve better. If it’s that important, they will leave a message and you can get back to them when you are free. That way, you control your time

Interruptions are a natural part of your working day, but using these ideas should minimise the effects and help build your productivity. Thanks again Sean Sean McPheat Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 23 December, 2011

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