Are These Interruptions Slowing Down Your Work?
Here’s a situation you’re probably familiar with – you have a long list of tasks to get through in the day so you decide to sensibly create a schedule so that you can complete all these tasks in a timely manner. You complete the first task and you’re right on schedule! You start the second task confident that you’ll get through every chore before the day is up – you may even get to go home early – but then you get an interruption. A client rings you up and drags you into a thirty-minute conversation and then an employee tells you they need help with a task. Suddenly you’re behind schedule and it’s another case of staying late or catching up tomorrow.
Such interruptions can be infuriating because they’re impossible to plan for… or so it may seem. In actual fact, you can plan for everything if you’re willing to invest a little more money or simply adapt your methods. Here are just a few common workplace interruptions and how you can make them less of an inconvenience to your day.
Unscheduled phone calls
Where possible, it’s always best to schedule phone calls. If clients ring up and want a progress report or want to discuss figures with you, tell them that you’d be happy to schedule a later phone call with them – this not only allows you to work your schedule around them, it also allows you to plan for the phone call and put all your focus into it rather than wanting to go back to a previous task that you were engaged in.
There are of course even more efficient ways of dealing with phone calls. You could hire a secretary to take care of calls for you and relay only the most important information to you. If you don’t want to hire a full-time secretary, there’s always the alternative option of outsourcing a phone answering service. This works much like having a secretary, except instead you’re using another company specialised in telephone communication to answer your calls and relay important information to you.
It’s possible to ignore incoming emails and respond to them at a later convenient time, but what if the emails require immediate action? The best way of dealing with emails is to come up with an efficient sorting system so that every time an email comes through you read it and place it in a folder depending on its importance.
The five folder system is an efficient way of organising emails – messages that don’t need an immediate response can be placed in a ‘today’ folder (to be answered at the end of the day), a ‘this week’ folder (to be answered at the end of the week), a ‘this month’ folder (to be answered at the end of the month) or a ‘FYI’ folder (informational purposes). This way you’re not wasting your time answering emails that don’t need to be answered straight away.
You can also write up digital guides for recurring questions. Those want to completely relinquish this interruption can even outsource someone to read and deal with emails, relaying only important information to you.
Having your employees/colleagues constantly interrupt you to ask questions or seek help can be frustrating. You don’t want to act shirty with them, otherwise, they may stop approaching you, even when it comes to important information. If it’s a case of new employees constantly asking you questions consider creating a training manual that they can refer to or why not train up a senior staff member who can deal with these enquiries (having a thorough hiring and training process in place to begin with could help to reduce these enquiries).
As for more general enquiries from experienced staff, consider having them email these queries or write them down on a whiteboard to be discussed in a daily morning meeting. Keep an open door policy for emergency interruptions – they may be annoying but they’re important and cannot be ignored.
There are plenty of technology faults that can cause an interruption, however, you can prepare for these. Upgrading your wi-fi connection could prevent moments of no internet, whilst outsourcing an IT support company could help you to deal with bugs and glitches. As for broken equipment, it’s worth always having a backup machine and storing any information in the Cloud so that it can be accessed from any device. You can even buy a backup generator for keeping your business going during a power cut. Make sure to keep all technology well maintained and repair faults as they soon as they occur.