Interruptions! Something We Can Count on Daily

Note: this is a guest-post by Mark Woods, presenter of the Activity Power webinar on September 21, and co-author of the book “Attack Your Day! Before It Attacks You.”

Interruptions come to us as part of our job. The last thing that any of us would ever want to do is eliminate necessary interruptions. They are necessary, that’s why we have been hired. What we want to do is focus on unnecessary interruptions, the ones that are trivial and have absolutely no payoff whatsoever.

Interruptions represent one thing and one thing only, they are priority conflicts. That’s why they are so stressful because we would like to be working on something over here and all of the sudden we are being drawn in a totally different direction. Both things appear to be important, up goes our stress levels, down goes productivity, up goes frustration. It’s very difficult when we have conflicting priorities. 

So, how can we manage interruptions and stay focused?

The starting point in gaining control over our interruptions is to realize where they are coming from and which ones are the most troublesome. Most daily interruptions come in the following areas. Telephone, drop-ins, personal organization, procrastination, and emails.

Here are a few quick tips:

– Telephone calls: Put a time limit on the front of your call. For example, if you were to call me I would say “John, I am glad you called, I have about 3 minutes. Could we wrap it up in that amount of time?”

– Personal organization: Spend 20 minutes planning each day. Give yourself a buffer, most people miss their time estimates by about 40%. Another good one is to use a talk file.  Instead of picking up the phone to interrupt someone else, make a list of action items to talk about on your next scheduled call.  That way you don’t become an “interrupter.”

If you find yourself navigating through a minefield of interruptions, join us on our Activity Power webinar Tuesday, September 21. Register Here.