Top Ten Ways to Manage Interruptions


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So many people I worked with said they got more work done at home than in the office. That was because there were so many interruptions in the office. In fact lots of people come in early or stay late just to have quiet time to work. One way to have that same quiet time during the day is to manage interruptions. Look for ways to create a “Power hour" of work time. Maybe this will allow you to get home earlier!

1. Email – shut off the audible alarm for email in your computer. Plan to check email two or three times a day. Allot time in your schedule for answering important email. Use a good spam filter and delete unnecessary email.

2. Telephone – Use voice mail message to let people know you will return their call at a particular time during the day. Let people who answer the phone for you know that you can not be interrupted. Give them specific instructions about what constitutes and emergency.

3. Staff – Help the staff to understand the reason you cannot be interrupted. Give them a time at which they can get their questions and issues answered. Use a “Do Not Disturb" sign on your door or some other signal so that staff understands you are not to be interrupted.

4. Colleagues – Use “Do Not Disturb" sign on door. Explain to colleagues that you are unreachable between certain hours. Be clear when they can talk with you. Set firm boundaries when people come in to “chat" with no clear business purpose.

5. Boss – This one is tricky. If you are working on a particular client matter, tell the manager about your deadline and the implications if you don’t get the work done. If your deadline comes from the boss make a trade off of a later deadline to accommodate the interruption.

6. Internet – Be careful about being drawn in by the Internet. Doing some research on the net can lead to distractions like shopping or looking at interesting sites that are unrelated to your current project. The Internet can be a huge interruption while at the same time a necessity.

7. Other project – Sometimes when you are working on one project something you need to do on another pops into your head. Getting up to do the other can be a way of procrastinating. If you don’t want to work on the project at hand something else that really does have to be done can be enticing. An example for me would be when I am working on a project and suddenly realize my plants need watering. Watering the plants at that moment is a big interruption. A way to deal with it is to make a note in my calendar to do it at another time.

8. Idea Flash – Funny how you can pause to think about something you are working on and suddenly you get a great idea about something else. If you have an idea notebook write it down and move on. No special notebook? Write it down somewhere so you can come back to it once you finish.

9. Messy office – A messy office can drain you of energy. Make sure the place you are working is relatively clear of unessential materials before you start working. Schedule a cleaning time on your calendar.

10. Hunger, need cigarette, bathroom – Take care of these needs before you begin your work. Any one of these can use up a whole morning because you pass other team members on your way to get food, a cigarette or to use the facilities and that can lead to conversation and distractions.

About Alvah Parker

Alvah Parker is a Business and Career Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. To subscribe send an email to .

Parker’s Value Program© enables clients to find a way to work that is more fulfilling and profitable. She is both a Practice Advisor and Coach to attorneys, managers, business owners, sole practioners, and people in transition. Alvah is found on the web at . She may also be reached at 781-598-0388


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