Stop Letting Interruptions Ruin Your Flow
When you’re trying to run your business, you want to be as productive as possible. You want your staff to be productive and efficient too, which means you need to help them do their jobs. Plenty of things can get in the way of both you and your workforce getting things done. One of the biggest threats to your productivity is constant interruptions. Being interrupted puts you off your stride and takes up valuable time when you could be getting a task done. If you find that you’re constantly being interrupted or your employees have expressed similar frustrations, you need to take action to reduce and manage interruptions.
Set Guidelines for Communication
There are times when you might be interrupted by someone who wants something from you, and it’s not at all urgent. They come straight to your office to talk when you’re in the middle of something, and they could have sent you an email or come to you later in the day. Preventing this kind of interruption can be tricky because it involves setting other people’s expectations. One thing you can do is try to create guidelines for communication to set out when different types of communication are most appropriate. If the matter is urgent, a phone call, an instant message or dropping by your office could be appropriate. If it can wait or the matter could even be dealt with by someone else, the person doesn’t need to come to you right away.
Have Daily Meetings
Another way to avoid interruptions during the day is to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing in the morning. A daily meeting gives everyone a chance to be sure that they know what they’re meant to be doing for the day. It gives them a chance to give an update on their progress and to ask any questions that they might have. If everyone can deal with any issues they might have before starting work, there could be less chance of interruptions later in the day. You might even want to have another meeting halfway through the day or see people individually, although you should avoid too many time-consuming meetings.
Create Available and Unavailable Time
Any academic institution will have office hours for staff when students can come and see them. If you want to reduce interruptions in your company, replicating this idea could work out for you and some members of your staff. By setting specific hours when you’re available or unavailable, you can concentrate on your work when you need to but still allow for people to drop in and see you. You might ask them to make an “appointment” first or just have hours when anyone can drop by to ask a question or have a discussion.
Say No When You Need To
It’s not always possible to stop people coming by and interrupting you when you’re trying to work. However, you can learn to turn them down and tell them that you’re busy. If you’re in the middle of something, the issue can likely wait until later. Even if it’s urgent, there’s often someone else available to take care of it so that you don’t have to. It’s not always easy to say no to someone if they’re asking for your help, but it is possible to do it politely. You might also need to say no to people when they call you, and it can easily take the form of a polite promise to return their call later.
Be Strict About Emails
Emails are terrible for distracting you when you’re trying to work. If you have alerts set up, you’re notified every time a new email comes in. Sometimes this is necessary because you have to watch out for urgent emails, but you might have to change the way you do things. If emails interrupt your workflow, it might be best to switch off any notifications. Check and answer your emails at set times of the day instead – perhaps first thing in the morning, at lunch and before you go home. If there are any matters that require your immediate attention, ask people to call you or drop by your office.
Get Someone to Answer Calls
Managing phone calls in the right way can also be useful for reducing interruptions. You want people to be able to get in touch with you when they need to, but you also don’t want constant phone calls putting you off. Your employees likely feel the same and don’t want to spend all day answering the phone. If you want a solution, a service like Virtual Reception can help. A virtual receptionist will answer your calls for you, putting them through to the right person if they’re available or taking a message if they’re not. It stops disruptive phone calls that can often wait until later.
Sometimes, you just can’t prevent an interruption. You can’t say no to it because it needs to be dealt with, or perhaps you want to make a client happy. But you can still try to set some parameters so that the interruption doesn’t completely take over your day. Otherwise, before you know it, it will be the end of the day, and you won’t have got any work done. Try telling people that you only have a certain amount of time available, whether it’s five to ten minutes or an hour. If you plan for a couple of unexpected interruptions, it shouldn’t throw you off too much.
Interruptions don’t just come from others. Sometimes, you’re interrupting yourself. If you want to keep up your workflow, don’t let yourself be distracted. Checking in on social media or wandering away from your desk can sometimes be good ways to take a short break. However, they can also easily pull you away from your work for too long. Make sure you’re not interrupting yourself by being disciplined when you’re working.
There’s no need to let interruptions affect your productivity. Use these strategies to stay focused and avoid too many distractions.
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