Are Interruptions Killing Your Productivity?

Have you ever worked all day but felt like nothing was accomplished? It’s quite possible that interruptions are to blame. I define an interruption as anything that diverts our attention away from the task at hand and onto something else. If we are not careful, interruptions can eat up our valuable time, waste our energy, and distract us from getting our work done.

Strategies for Eliminating Interruptions

There are many different types of Interruptions that cause us to lose our focus and concentration. Once we become aware and identify them as interruptions we can eliminate them. Here are a few of the most common types and some strategies you can use to keep them under control.

Phone calls

Most of us have been conditioned from childhood to believe we have to answer the phone every time it rings. However, just because somebody is calling us does not mean it’s an important call. Taking an unexpected phone call can easily divert our attention away from important tasks and eat up lots of valuable time with mindless chit chat.

Strategy – Keep your phone turned off and return phone calls only when it’s convenient for you.

Email Notifications

Whenever we receive an email notification our natural curiosity wants us to open and read the email. However, opening an innocent looking email could launch a sequence of time wasting events. Why take the chance?

Strategy – Keep your email programs and browsers closed at all times so you’re not tempted to open them.

Text Messages

Who can resist looking at a text message once you hear the sound alert telling you that you one came in? Similar to the email notification, whether you actually check your phone or not you will still be wondering who texted you. Don’t take the risk.

Strategy – Keep your phone turned off.

Unannounced Drop Ins

People dropping in on you unannounced is usually another form of interruption. If you work at home, these can be family members, neighbors, friends or relatives, or co-workers if you are at an office.

Strategy – Establish a closed door or Not Available Sign policy. Explain to the people around you that if you have a sign on your door (or your door is closed) it means you are not to be bothered. Perhaps this is between certain hours of the day. Simply communicating your needs and establishing a boundary using this technique can save hours of interruption free time.

Protect Your Valuable Time

I am not suggesting that I spend my entire day walking around with my phone turned off all day long, but when I am working on important tasks I do shut off my phone, turn off the email programs, and shut my door. It is kind of like my own little productivity ritual.

Time is the only resource we never get back, and sometimes gossip and phone conversations will just have to wait. If curious, give some of these strategies a try and see if they have a positive effect on your level of productivity.

If you have other strategies or ideas to use against interruptions I would love to hear about them. Please leave me comment below.


Daryl Murrow

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