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Time Mgmt #5: Manage interruptions

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

An interruption is an occurrence that stops an ongoing activity. Managing is having executive or supervisory control or authority. Work-related questions from coworkers, phone calls, emails, business texts inquiries, are normal to the workflow in a normal day, but not being able to control the time we spend on them can cause a significant impact on the rest of the day. Interruptions can kill our productivity, take away our focus, and can wreak havoc on our motivation if not managed.

Unlike social media or personal distractions, interruptions are work related issues that require direct or indirect involvement. They can be face-to-face, phone calls, texts, emails, noise level from coworkers, etc. Those that work from home aren't necessarily safe either: family members can interrupt the work flow if not managed.

What do we do? We need to start by being aware of the value of staying focused. We don't let anything steal our concentration. We do what it takes to keep our precious concentration. The following are some practical strategies to deal with interruptions at work:

  1. Change notification settings on your phone

  2. Use "Do not disturb" mode in apps

  3. Physically separate from coworkers

  4. Schedule heads down time

  5. Wear headphones to signal that you should not be disturbed

  6. Give coworkers to approach you at a later time

Nobody talks about work related interruptions but almost everyone admits that interruptions make us less productive. Let's be aware that not all interruptions are harmful. They can be opportunities to help and train others. When your supervisor calls, you have to drop what you are doing because there is an important request or question that needs to be done at that moment. Taking 2 minutes to prevent a coworker from wasting company time spinning wheels on an issue that you can help is highly productive.

Let's be more aware about interruptions and start by determining which ones need immediate attention, and which ones can wait. Structure your time so that you minimize interruptions but help others at the same time. At HelpGate, we are serious about focus and concentration, but we are also serious about being team players. More about interruptions coming soon...

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