It can be eye-opening once you realize that the many interruptions that happen in your day at work can actually be controlled. And in no particular order, here’s a look at seven top interruptions that occur often with most people and these can affect your productivity:
1. Saying YES to every request
When someone is asking you for some help, first stop and reconsider this request before you answer. You could use the effective phrase “not available” as you turn down a request. Often people don’t question the phrase and they will instead move to their next choice
2. Social Chat
This is by no means advocating having a sterile office that doesn’t allow people to chat. But rather, this is applicable when this is excessive that it’s considered a problem. Some solutions that you could use include:
Immediately standing up when someone steps into the office to chat. When you stand up, you are sending a nonverbal message that you’ve got other tasks to do. Eliminate “social magnets” in the office like the guest candy and super-comfy guest chairs. Also, ensure you aren’t positioned in a way that you feel that you have to greet everyone who walks past your door.
3. Phone Calls
If you have a support person, you can schedule a time for screening your calls, or for those that work alone, you could use voice mail to screen your calls. By answering your phone continuously, you will be more reactive and not proactive. This solution might seem unrealistic for some jobs, but generally, this option will give you time to get more done.
4. Instant Messaging
This service has two sides to it, in that it could solve the issue of answering those quick questions and not have to start a whole conversation in person. However, it can also become a problem when people don’t agree on guidelines between them. It may be a good idea to set the IM status to “Away” if you require uninterrupted time to work. Also, discuss messaging behavior with your colleagues to prevent issues before they actually occur.
5. Visual & Auditory Distractions
For maximum productivity and minimum distractions, strive to keep your workspace uncluttered. Consider ways to eliminate or mask distracting noise– desktop fountains and white noise machines are inexpensive and will make a big difference.
6. Random Thoughts
Keep your To-Do list closeby and ready for you to note down quick thoughts, then keep going. When possible, you could use a digital voice recorder, however, ensure you later have a process for putting this information into a time management system.
7. Improper Use of In and Out Boxes
Maintain your paper inbox cleared out and ready to make it easy and comfortable for people to leave things there for you. Encourage your colleagues to often use written instructions when possible. Also, use a paper outbox so as to avoid constant movement every few minutes in order to deliver things to different places. Again, be an example of someone who writes out very clear instructions to your co-workers.