Dealing With Interruptions

The best laid plans can go astray when others invade your planned day! Not all interruptions are bad. By taking the phone call, you gained a new project for your client – or even a new client. Brief social interaction with colleagues or clients may not yield immediate results. They can greatly contribute to better relationships that will bring rewards later.

To really control interruptions during your most productive time of the day, schedule an appointment with yourself for 1-2 hours. Communicate to all that you do not want to be interrupted – unless it is an emergency. Even if you have an open-door policy, it is permissible to not be available every moment of every day. Just communicate your intentions in advance.

You can also relocate to an empty office, library or conference room where your phone and computer won’t tempt you every time you hear an email ding or the phone ring. Leave your phone or Blackberry in your office. Forward your calls to voicemail with a message telling the caller when you will be returning your calls and direct them to the proper person if they need immediate assistance.

Be sure to give clear directives to your back-up person so they can determine any situation that merits breaking into your “Do Not Disturb” time. If you use this technique regularly, you will be able to condition others not to interrupt you during your declared focus time. You will find you can dig into those high priority/high results tasks and achieve better outcomes in a shorter amount of time.

And – when you are about to interrupt someone else to meet your needs, think again. Be considerate of the other person’s time and the impact interruptions make on his or her successful day. If we all consciously thought about the impact on productivity – or lack of due to interruptions, we may be able to reduce the number of times we interrupt others or are interrupted by others.