How To Manage Disruptive Work Interruptions With Ease

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In any small business, interruptions seem inevitable. At first glance, they may appear harmless but persistent interruptions throughout your workday can cause you to feel unfocused, frustrated and overwhelmed. Have you ever left your office feeling like you’ve not accomplished a thing all day? In some cases, that’s exactly what happened.

Did you know that an individual gets interrupted at work about every three minutes which averages 160 interruptions per day! Whether it’s an email, phone call, employee question or project emergency, they are all disruptive to your workflow. Interruptions pull you out of your current focus and into someone else’s world. It generally results in unproductive and inefficient work behavior. If you are a small business owner, this can prove quite costly to your business.

Rather than feeling you are at the mercy of continual interruptions, you may want to consider restructuring your time at work to maximize your productivity and sense of ease. When you consciously manage interruptions, you can increase your results and revenue. Research from Dr. Gloria Mark of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California Irvine, indicates that it takes anywhere between 6 and 20 minutes to recover and refocus after you are interrupted. So, not only are you using up time during the actual interruption, you are also expending additional time to “get back on track” with the work you were doing prior to being interrupted.

Try one (or all) of the following steps to manage disruptive work interruptions:

1.Note your current source of interruptions and time that they are taking in your schedule, you’ll then be better prepared to address them

2.Make a commitment to not interrupt yourself. When engaged in a task, resist the urge to “survey the landscape” (i.e. check email, get up and talk, read Internet news, etc.)

3.Identify your peak productivity hours then schedule your tasks appropriately (most people do things out of habit rather than honoring their natural rhythm)

4.Schedule 30 minutes per day of “non-interrupt time” during your peak hours (even if it means closing your office door or telling your colleagues you can’t be interrupted)

5.Begin to notice if you are interrupting others, ask to approach them and be willing to re-negotiate another time to talk or meet (it will model new behaviors for both of you)

On a recent call with a client, he lamented, “I feel like I can never get anything done. My whole day is a series of interruptions from my manager and my colleagues. I just have to accept that I have to work this way… even if it means I can’t do my best work and I’m always stressed.” He seemed to accept that his work would be stressful and that interruptions were inevitable. I challenged both assumptions and encouraged him to explore how he might work with more ease. We identified the actions he could implement to change things in his work environment.

Over the next month, he was thrilled with the results his actions had created. These new actions dramatically increased his productivity and his team’s. People began to respect each other’s time, kept their questions more focused, and honored the hours available in the day. My client could focus more fully on work, engage in more innovative thinking and produce better solutions.

You too can benefit from managing interruptions and creating focused time during your peak productivity hours. I wish you well as you begin to incorporate this new information.

May you know joy, may you know peace and may you work with ease.

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