Interruptions are all around us. Research is showing that, on average, we spend about three minutes on a task before an interruption occurs. Three minutes. Is it any wonder why we’re finding it difficult to get things done? Here are ideas and strategies in three areas to help reduce interruptions and increase your focus.
Email notification sounds and symbols – on your cell phone and your computer — include chimes and dings as well as those obnoxious balloons that pop up in the lower right hand corner of your computer screen. These alerts get a response 70% of the time within six seconds, which is faster than letting your phone ring three times. In other words, they are very effective in interrupting your focus. Go into the Settings area of your phone and your email management program to shut these off once and for all.
Interruptions from others
Because we receive the majority of our interruptions from co-workers, it’s helpful to let them know when you need uninterrupted time. The easiest way to do this is to provide a signal such as a simple DO NOT DISTURB sign, closing your door or blocking off time on your calendar (assuming your calendar is visible to them).
Making eye contact with those walking by your office can be perceived by others as an invitation to stop in. Gain focus and reduce interruptions by positioning your desk in a way so you are not facing your door/entrance.
The third way to reduce interruptions from others is to shut off instant messaging. Most companies do not require this tool to be used so opting out or simply shutting it off will allow you greater focus and less interruptions.
Clutter is a distraction so having a messy office will only contribute to having less focus. Take time to sort and purge stacks of paper sitting on, under or around your desk. If you’ve got “stuff” that’s been taking up space, find a home for it.
Interruptions are part of office atmospheres and it seems like they’ll always be there. But being proactive in minimizing them will help you take control of your personal productivity by creating an environment that is more peaceful and conducive to getting more done.