You’re in the zone – calm, focused and efficient. There’s no reason your proposal won’t be finished before lunch. Apart from the inevitable interruptions, that is.
If interruptions are impacting on your productivity and profitability and causing you stress, here are my easy-to-action tips for managing interruptions.
No man or woman is an island even if, at times, you wish you were. Many of us carry multiple communication devices, work across time zones, and encourage open doors in the office. You want to be available and you want to be productive. Is it possible to find a balance? Yes, but you’ll need to take a stand.
Managing Interruptions – The Benefits
By consciously and deliberately managing interruptions, it’s possible to find a balance between productivity and your availability. It takes discipline and practice, but the benefits are well worth the effort. You’ll feel less rushed and less anxious. You’ll be able to bring your full attention to tasks, you’ll be more productive, and you’ll communicate more effectively with both clients and staff. Your team will benefit too when you lead by example and share your practices with them.
The Costs of Interruptions
If you (and your team) do nothing to manage interruptions, you’re likely to feel rushed and stressed. It’s well known that after every interruption, it takes up to 15 minutes to refocus on the previous task. Important tasks that are missed soon become urgent. If you’re distracted, you’re more likely to make mistakes. And some of them could be serious. You become a slave to technology and less aware of the needs of your staff. Business productivity must suffer, and it’ll probably be sooner rather than later.
An Easy-to-Implement Strategy for Managing Interruptions
Put your electronic devices to good use and schedule regular periods of time for specific activities, such as quiet work behind a closed door, taking phone calls, returning phone calls, checking email, meeting with staff, meeting with clients and socialising. Think about introducing morning and afternoon tea breaks – this is one way of deterring unscheduled visits from other staff looking for a chat over coffee. Share your schedule with your P.A. and ensure your staff are aware of your time management structure, so that everyone’s clear when you’re available and when you’re not. Use telephone messages and automatic emails to let people know you’ve received their message or email and will respond. Plan your schedule thoughtfully, and be prepared to adjust it as necessary. For example, if you’re most productive in the morning, do your quiet work then. If clients normally call in the late morning, be available to take phone calls then. Encourage your staff to put similar processes in place.
Managing interruptions is a highly effective way of reducing distractions and increasing productivity. It works wonders for your state of mind too!