Knowing how to control and limit interruptions is essential, particularly during critical times when you need to focus on important tasks. Uncontrolled interruptions can be devastating to your time management. Consider establishing a system to take messages from team members, vendors, and clients to minimize interruptions.
Interruptions can significantly impact productivity, leading to mistakes and delays in completing projects. By minimizing interruptions, you can make the most of your available time and achieve your goals more efficiently.
How to Control and Limit Interruptions
Interruptions at any time should be limited, especially during your “golden hours” before deadlines. Determine your most important times of the day to limit interruptions, then consider the following:
Small talk and chitchats
These can be quickly and politely ended by explaining, “That sounds interesting. Could we talk later? I’m in the middle of something.”
Requests during critical times can be limited by asking yourself:
- Does this require my guidance?
- Can another team member handle this?
- Do I need to do this now, and if not, when is the best time to accomplish this?
What if it’s your boss?
There will be times your boss will need to interrupt you, but something I learned was to inform my boss what I was working on, where I was in the project, and how much more there was to do; then I’d ask if I should finish my project or put it on pause.
What about notifications?
“In 2020, more than 300 billion emails were sent and received every day, a number that is expected to grow to 320 billion this year. The average office worker receives more than 120 emails daily.” — Forbes
And that’s only emails. What about texts, slack, and social media? At one time, I managed more than twenty business social media accounts, three emails, and two phones. I received notifications every minute of the day and found it hard to concentrate, stay on task, and get ‘er done. Eventually, I turned off all notifications except one phone. I informed co-workers, vendors, and customers if they needed me urgently to text or call. Next, I set a three times a day schedule to check notifications, including email. Before you say you couldn’t do that because of your job, maybe you can’t limit it to three times a day, but could you reduce the number of times you check?
Establish a time and system
Set a schedule and take messages from team members, vendors, and clients so as not to be interrupted during your golden hours.
Do not waste others’ time
Are you the initiator of the interruptions? It’s important to enjoy yourself at work, but let’s focus on accomplishing work tasks, not delaying them. Be mindful of interrupting others and pick your times carefully.
How Interruptions Affect Us
Many team leaders find they spend too much time seeking solutions to a problem when someone else on the team is better suited for the task. Interruptions take time away from planned projects, and diverting oneself from the project takes more time to refocus. This often leads to mistakes. It’s like rereading the same sentence after an interruption.
It’s like rereading the same sentence after an interruption. In addition, interrupting a project slows the process and is a time waster. Consider this: take the number of interruptions multiplied by the time lost per interruption for the total time wasted. For example, if you have five team members on a project, times a 12-minute interruption per member, you’ve lost a whole hour!
Time management starts with organizing and planning how much time you spend on different activities to maximize your available time. Effective time management can help you achieve your goals, improve productivity, and reduce stress. It’s essential to analyze your time usage and identify areas where you can improve. You might find that interruptions are a larger problem than you know.
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