Getting a Handle on Interruptions

By: Audrey Thomas

The most frequent complaint I hear from those trying to improve their productivity is how impossible it feels with all the interruptions they face each day.

They’re right, and the research is behind them: the average American employee is interrupted every four minutes. The good news is that no one is powerless. There are many ways to manage the interruptions that threaten your productivity.

  • If technology is distracting you, turn off email and phone notifications. If email is the real culprit, begin checking email LESS frequently: aim for 3-5 times per day. You’ll have better focus throughout the day and have the concentration to make rapid-fire decisions on the contents of your inbox.
  • If your interruptions have names and faces, it will take time and care to address, but change is still possible. As an organization, be honest: What does a closed door actually mean? How does an employee in a cubicle signal they are unavailable and are those signals followed? Having these conversations are crucial to creating a culture in which interruptions are minimized and productivity is prioritized.
  • Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Don’t try to tackle 15 tasks in one day; choose a couple to major on and be realistic about your capacity. Don’t forget to factor in all the unplanned interruptions you’ll be managing.
  • If you use dual monitors, chances are you leave your email inbox on one screen while working on the other. If you don’t need the second screen, completely minimize your email program and you’ll avoid interrupting yourself when you notice incoming email.

This article was created by the team at Organized Audrey. This material may be reprinted or reposted, but please credit the author and our website:

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