Interruptions are a natural part of any workflow in any workplace. How big of a disturbance they create is often a consequence of how you handle them. Minimise the impact of interruptions with these tricks.
Photo by hawee.
Nobody likes being interrupted in the middle of something important. Research certainly confirms that refocusing after an interruption is a time sink and a workplace problem, but you can minimise the impact of interruption with planning and interruption management. At the productivity blog Stepcase Lifehack they've put together a list of ways to minimise and diffuse interruptions. The most important entry in the list by far is, as odd as it may first sound, to plan for interruptions.
Effective planning is a cornerstone of the productive lifestyle. Planning for interruptions might seem impossible. Does it to you? Here's an easy visualization that will help you get started with your planning:
Start each work session by drawing a few squares on a small piece of scrap paper. These represent distractions that will almost certainly pop up. As you encounter and conquer distractions, put a check mark in the appropriate box. After awhile you'll be able to do this in your head. Sounds easy, right? An expected distraction has no power over your day. You still have control.
On the surface it sounds simplistic, no? But how often do we react to an interruption as though it was completely unexpected and has ruined our focus, wasting precious minutes from our day? Individual interruptions are no more predictable to an office worker than fires are to a firefighter but they are equally as part of the job and something that it would be foolish to not expect. If you go into your day acknowledging that it will be impossible to make it to the end of the day without being interrupted in some fashion and to plan so that an interruption of small or grand scale doesn't completely train wreck your focus and your task list for the day, you'll end the day with more accomplished and if nothing else more relaxed.
Check out the full guide to minimising the impact of interruptions over at Stepcase Lifehack. If you have a tip, trick or story to share about your methods for cutting out interruptions, let's hear about it in the comments.
9 Ways to Handle Interruption Like a Pro [Stepcase Lifehack]