4 Ways to Reduce Interruptions

Reduce interruptions and increase productivity. According to a survey conducted in 2005 "The Cost of Not Paying Attention: How Interruptions Impact Knowledge Worker Productivity," interruptions took up 28 percent of knowledge workers time?

My clients resonate with this - their mobile and desk phone are ringing, several messages have come into their email, and a work colleague is asking them a question...and this only in 10 minutes of sitting with them.

How are you ever going to reach that important deadline if you can't manage the interruptions?

Eliminating interruptions is unrealistic - and some interruptions are essential! But you can probably reduce interruptions and improve your time management at work. Low priority interruptions cost you time and productivity.

Here are 4 ways to manage interruptions.

1. Reduce interruptions by planning for them

Do coworkers hang outside your door or around your cubicle for the chance to ask you a question. Do you find that you are overwhelmed by interruptions and they are pulling you off what is most important.

In your time management schedule ensure that there are breaks between your important activities.This buffer time allows you to manage interruptions appropriately.

Consider publishing these breaks to your co-workers. Knowing that you will be interrupted and planning for them can increase your feeling of control.

2. Manage email and social networking sites

Many workers spend 2 hours reading and responding to email. Email has the potential to dwarf all other forms of communication and one of the most pervasive interruptors in the workplace. In an analysis of over 500,000 PC-user hours, the average worker in a day accessed their email over 50 times and social networking sites over 70 times.

These distractions can be a big time-waster!

Good email management

  • reduces distractions,
  • improves focus, and
  • boosts your time management in the workplace.

3. Protect your time for high impact activities

Lets face it, we live in world that is competing for our attention. This is why you need to be proactive in ensuring that you make time for you high impact activities.

With the corporate executives and business professionals I make sure that they block out time in their schedule to minimize interruptions. When working with clients I have found that this time management tip alone allows them to focus on their top priority tasks.

If you are still interrupted, either

  • remove yourself from the work environment (work from home if the company allows),
  • find a quite room, or
  • let others know only to interrupt in the case of an emergency.

Some of the managers and teams that I have worked with have found quite inventive ways to reduce interruptions.

4. Is the interruption worth it?

When interrupted, ask questions to gauge the importance of the interruption. Get the person who interrupted to rate the importance of the task on a scale of 1 - 10.

Ask them whether they have asked others, and probably most importantly, ask them what solutions or actions they have come up with?

This question alone improves your time management in the workplace.

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