Managing interruptions – phone and email

By default, we are getting interrupted at least once every 6-8 minutes all day long.

And, it takes 10-15 minutes to bringat desk your focus back to what you were doing when you were interrupted.

That math just doesn’t work. Think about it.

You will be interrupted, and you will most likely keep getting interrupted before you can get back to what you were doing (if you even remember what it was).

Do you really need to see that pop-up every time you get an incoming email? Do you really need to hear that beep every time something lands in your inbox.

Is that more important than what you are working on now?

Give yourself a break. Shut it off while you are trying to concentrate.

You will not be able to eliminate every interruption, but you can control some of them. Do that.

© Terry Monaghan, 2013 ~ All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at www.TimeTriage.com.

Schedule focused blocks of time

timeblocksWe’ve all had the experience of thinking something will take 30 minutes only to discover that it really took us 2 hours from start to finish.

Often this is because we are allowing ourselves to be distracted or interrupted in the middle of the task or project.

Or, we keep shifting from the phone to the computer to some research to looking for a file to getting a cup of coffee… (insert your own activity here).

Try blocking time for phone calls – and make all your calls during that block of time.

Or, block time for lunch and actually leave your desk (radical thought, I know).

Even a 15 minute block, uninterrupted, will make a difference in your day.

 

© Terry Monaghan, 2013 ~ All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at www.TimeTriage.com.

How do you manage interruptions?

Have you ever noticed how many things will interrupt you throughout your day? And how often?

I have heard that we get interrupted, on average, about once every 6 to 8 minutes throughout the day. And, that it can take us 10-15 minutes (or more) to get our focus back on what we were doing before the interruption.

There is a real problem with that! The math doesn’t work! By those standards, the first interruption will derail your whole day.

What can you do about it?

Dan Kennedy says “If they can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you.” But in these days of 24/7 connectivity and accessibility, how do you make yourself un-findable?

Here are some things you might want to consider:

Turn off your email

Really, shut it off. Not for the whole day (I can hear you hyperventilating), but consider turning it off while you are focusing on that report you need to write, or that project you need to give your attention.

Let your calls go to voicemail

Maybe I am odd. But, I really have no trouble turning off my phone when I am in a meeting, or when I am working on something that requires my undivided attention. The world will not end if I don’t answer my phone for an hour!

Work somewhere else

Book a conference room, and close the door. Go to a coffee shop, or the library, or the park. Take yourself away from your own environment – co-workers won’t be able to stick their heads into your office/cubicle, and all the things that are distracting in your own office are not where you are.

Have a specific place for your work

If you work from home, have a specific place in your home to do your work. This really helps me. It is too easy to goof off if I am working on my living room couch instead of in my office. Everything in my office is about work. Everything in the rest of my home is about relaxation or play. If you don’t have a separate room, at least have a work area you don’t use for anything else.

Give yourself a break

Don’t try to focus for more than about 90 minutes at a time (at the most). Give yourself frequent breaks. This is a great way to deal with bright shiney object syndrome. I can focus on anything for a while, knowing that I will be able to take a break and distract myself in a little while.

These are just some of the techniques that will support you in managing the inevitable interruptions. Because they aren’t going to go away.

Now, which one are you going to try?

(c) Terry Monaghan, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:
Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at www.TimeTriage.com.

How accessible do you need to be?

Last week we were talking about managing distractions (really interruptions) and I wrote:

Dan Kennedy says “if they can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you.”

Then I asked: How can you make yourself inaccessible?

Well, you would have thought I suggested something completely radical! I can’t tell you how many people said, “But you just don’t understand! In my profession (my office, my company), I have to be available all the time. I have to take the call. I have to answer the email – right away.”

Really? How well does that work for you? Did you ever think that you are training your environment – your colleagues, clients, prospects – that you are always available? And then you complain that you get calls at ridiculous hours, you can’t have a meal without the phone ringing, and you are answering email late at night and on the weekends and on vacation. And you and your family resent it. You have given up any boundaries and have completely given up control of your time, energy and resources to whoever is on the other end of the phone or computer.

The bad news – the flood of calls and emails and interruptions aren’t going to stop anytime soon.

The good news – you actually have a lot of control over it.

I know a lot of people who review their email for the last time in their workday about an hour or so before the end of the day. This gives them time to deal with any really time sensitive matters (of which there are relatively few). Others have an end of day routine that includes sending out a bunch of messages to clients, colleagues, etc., to clear their own desk. They are not expecting an immediate response – they are just shifting things to the next state of action. Sort of like a tennis player hitting the ball back over the net.

If you are one of the people who receive this kind of message, you might think you need to stop and bang out a response immediately. But, trust me, the person who sent the message is not expecting an immediate response.

Why do we always assume an immediate response is required? We have been trained that way. Instant messaging. Instant coffee. Fast food. Frozen dinners (that take longer to heat than making something from scratch). The default reaction is get it done now, fast.

I’d like you to consider a different response. Take control of your energy. Take a moment (or two or ten) to think, to plan, to breathe, to focus. Turn off the phone. Turn off the computer. Walk away.

Where have you given up control? Where do you operate in default reaction mode? Pick one area and give up reacting. Just try.

I promise you two things. First, you will make massive progress on your goals. Second, you will find yourself far less stressed out.

Because, really, without a life, what’s the point?