Do you ever leave the office at the end of the day wondering what you have accomplished? Do you ever feel that if you have one more interruption you are going to blow a gasket? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Interruptions come in all shapes and sizes and many of us encounter various interruptions throughout the day. Phone calls, e-mails, text messages, clients, employees, and more can all be interruptions to our day. Yet, they are all essential elements to our days as well!
Interruptions are common, especially if you are a manager or a team leader. People depend on you for direction, seek your opinion on important matters, desire to collaborate with you, and want you to answer their questions and eliminate their obstacles.
So, what types of interruptions are there?
Interruptions that should not be ignored. These would be instances such as the building burning down, the toilet overflowing, or a phone call from an important client you have been trying to connect with for over a week. Take action immediately! These are urgent and important interruptions.
Interruptions that require more information and input. These would be instances such as people asking for your help or emails and/or text messages about non-urgent (and sometimes non-important) matters. Questions such as “Can you fix this?”, “Do you have that?”, “Can you dig up some research about a situation?”, and “Do you remember when…” can really eat up your time.
Be sure to get plenty of information about these inquiries in order to determine if you need to actually spend time on the interruption or not. If not, quickly put the situation in someone else’s hands, explain why you cannot help at this current moment, and move on!
Interruptions that are welcome, exciting, and/or emotional. These would be instances such as receiving a package for your birthday or flowers for Valentine’s Day, or even a phone call from your dear grandmother.
So, how can we avoid or better manage these daily interruptions?
Establish a set time to talk and welcome questions, concerns, and commentary from your co-workers, employees, and management. This enables others to respect your time, yet know that they will have a window to get your opinion as needed. Spread these out during the day in intervals. All other times are your private time and should not be interrupted.
Work from a remote location. This provides an out of sight, out of mind mentality to others and you may be able to get a lot more of your goals accomplished than you would in the office setting.
Close and/or lock your door. This should get the message across that you are not available at the moment. With the door as a barrier, casual interrupters, those who come to tell you about the wreck they saw on the freeway, office gossips, and more know that they need to save their story for a later date and time.
We live in a world that is full of interruptions. As we become more aware of these interruptions and we learn to manage them effectively we will regain our precious time and become more productive throughout the day. We will be able to finish the day with a sense of accomplishment and know that we have not blown all of our gaskets. On another note, how many gaskets do we have anyway?