Tips on how to Manage Workplace Interruptions

by Barnabas Eigege

Everyday interruptions at work can be a key barrier to effective time management. Interruptions can  rob one of the time and energy he needs to accomplish tasks and be able to enjoy a life outside work. Interruptions are expensive, costing both time and money. 

Studies prove that it takes up to 20 minutes to regain the level of concentration needed to successfully complete complex work which was lost to an interruption. Frequent interruptions cause stress, irritability and frustration.

Workplace interruptions are not new. In today’s world, however, there are more ways to stop somebody’s thought flow than ever before. Besides the casual popping by your desk or workspace, interrupters IM, e-mail, text, and call you, almost simultaneously at times. 

Workplace Interruption

It is not possible or healthy to eliminate all interruptions, but they can be reduced for better time and energy management.

Here are some of the best strategies for handling interruptions

1.    Properly train staff to handle your request

Explain directions thoroughly and completely the first time. Be proactive and teach people to understand the way you like tasks to be done. By taking the time to train people correctly. you will virtually eliminate the need for people to interrupt you for  clarification or further information regarding your requests.

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2.    Pause and breathe

Most interruptions are not a crisis, yet it is easy to get caught up in the urgency of the person interrupting. Take a moment to clear your head, assess the situation accurately, and respond appropriately. 

3. Manage Uncontrollable Interruptions

There are interruptions one simply cannot control. When scheduling a more convenient time does not work, quickly set a time parameter in a friendly manner. Do not ask the interrupter to sit down or engage in small talk. Get right to the pint, and if a time for getting back to them. Stick to your boundaries.

4. Learn to say “no”

It is often acceptable to say “no” to requests or tasks if you are busy when someone else can handle it, if the task is not urgent, or if the task can be addressed later. When this is the case, saying “no” in a courteous and sincere way followed by a short explanation is the best course of action to take.

5. Track, Analyze and Control Interruptions

To effectively decrease workplace interruptions, record everyone for the next 3 – 4 weeks. Booking appointment ahead of time with clients and other important persons can help to reduce interruptions. In booking appointment, note the date, time and duration, the level of urgency as well as the person and subject.

6. Making use of Visitors’ Form

Secretaries working with top and busy executives should design visitors’ forms. To be included in the firm are the date, time of call, purpose of the visit and the notes of the executive. It is better for the executive to give the next line of action in the form than allowing the visitor to see him and interrupt tasks on hand.

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In Conclusion 

Let’s admit it, we’ve all been the interrupters, as well as the interrupted. When someone is deep in thoughts, he or she concentration and mental energy need to go toward the task at hand. Frequent interruptions are not only productivity killers, they are significant energy suckers and work satisfaction destroyers.

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