Does it seem like every time you turn around, someone needs something and that pile of work on your desk only grows? Do you wish you could put out a “Do Not Disturb” sign just to finish your responsibilities? Interruptions are a fact of life. But research shows too many office distractions can dramatically reduce productivity. The good news: It is possible to limit and manage workplace interruptions. Here are some ideas:
- Keep track of your time for one whole week. If that seems overwhelming, keep track of it for a couple days. Simply document how much time you spend on each task and action, and how often and why you are interrupted. Once you have an idea of your most common interruptions, you can plan how best to protect your time.
- If you notice that some interruptions are consistent in nature and time, consider creating specific meetings for those needs.
- How many times has someone asked, “Got a minute?” Does it ever really take one minute? Instead, reply that you are in the middle of something, ask their need, and then set a specific date and time to talk about that need.
- Turn off any instant notifications on your devices. Do you really need to be notified every time you receive an email or social media update?
- Let your phone calls go directly to voicemail to be checked at a designated time. The same goes for replying to any text messages and e-mails. Just because you can respond immediately doesn’t mean you should.
- Consider working remotely one day a week. This only works, of course, if you have a quiet place to work and don’t have to worry about interruptions.