Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Close the Door on Interruptions

No matter how good your concentration skills, unless you are a hermit in a cave, people will interrupt you. The phone will ring. Someone or something will demand your attention. It takes a person about 20 minutes to recover focus after being interrupted.

If you do not handle interruptions well or want some new ideas, here are some tips to help you.
Allow time in your schedule to handle interruptions. If you schedule your day too tightly or rigidly, you will not be able to make up time lost to interruptions.

Who interrupts you and when? Do you see a pattern? The same person asking the same questions? A call from a friend at the same time each day? Eliminate the interruption before it occurs. Consider additional training for the employee who asks too many questions. Call your friend at night and refuse to take the call during the day.

Close your door. Leave your cubicle and go to an empty office or conference room. 

Ask people to postpone routine matters. Set aside time each day for dealing with them and encourage people to meet with you during that time. Make sure everyone knows when your door is open and you are receptive to interruptions. 

Do not encourage socializing. Pile files and books on chairs in your office or cubicle. Turn your desk so you do not face the door. When someone just drops in, immediately stand and remain standing. Either ask them to return or tell them you can only spare five minutes. When the five minutes are up, ask them to leave and promise to call them later. Make sure you follow up.

Where do most of your interruptions come from? What will you do to minimize interruptions? List three steps you will take to manage interruptions.

Excerpted from Ten Tips for Getting Things Done Easier, Faster, Better by Patricia  Haddock

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