Managing interruptions

Burned-out car
We live in a fast-paced multi-channel world. Temptation to procrastinate is bad enough; interruptions are downright obtrusive. It’s an issue that often crops up in conversation with colleagues and peers so I decided to pull together some hints and tips based upon my own experience and common suggestions across a range of productivity websites. In no particular order:

  • Limit your availability through certain communication channels and make sure your team/peers and others are aware of this.
  • Let people know when you’re free and when you’re not by sharing your calendar—“Busy” is not really an appropriate entry ;)
  • Set constraints where you can’t avoid interruptions i.e. warn the person you only have five minutes to discuss something because you have a key deadline to meet.
  • Choose your time wisely—work on important pieces of work when you’re least likely to be interrupted.
  • Plan for the interruptions—give yourself more time to achieve key tasks.
  • Lead by example. When interrupting others always start by asking whether or not they have time for a quick chat.
  • Automate your own systems to save time and make your life easier e.g. set rules within your email client to manage incoming mail.
  • Choose your location wisely—if you don’t need to work at your desk then don’t especially if it minimises the risk of interruption.

Avoid burning yourself out, and look after yourself! I hope you find this list useful, please share your tips via the comments :)


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