How frustrated do you feel when you are interrupted? I know I can feel quite annoyed when I’m in the middle of a large piece of work and the phone, a colleague or an email ‘breaks up’ my concentration. By the way, that’s the original meaning of the word ‘interrupt’…to break up. How fitting!
I’ve listed below some tips that I’ve found useful in minimising the impact of interruptions in my working day:
First, the phone: If you are reachable at all times, then expect to be interrupted. Instead, have specific times during the day where you put your phone through to voicemail, and return the calls when you have planned to do so. Also, bunch your outgoing calls so you control when you call. Call people just before lunch or just before closing time…you tend to keep conversations short and have more time to get things done.
Uninvited visitors: State you’re busy and tell the visitor you will be free in xx minutes. That way, you control when you have visitors. Have a chair for visitors away from your desk so they don’t automatically sit down when they come into your office or workspace. Tell colleagues that if your door is shut, you are undisturbable for that short time period.
Requests for information: Make sure the people you delegate work to have sufficient information and authority without having to regularly refer back to you. If you say you will get back to people, keep to your promises.
Email: Have specific times during the day when you check email. Make those times generous but controllable. Turn off the email notifier so you can concentrate on your real work instead of being controlled by the incoming mail.
If you follow out these suggestions, you have to take responsibility for the quality of the work you complete when you are not unterruptable. If you do, you’ll find you are more productive and less likely to be at the beck and call of interruptions that are within your control.