We’ve all had this experience. We are in the middle of doing our work and we decide to check our email because we hear a “bling” noise indicating that a new message just came into our inbox. Or perhaps a co-worker emails, calls, texts or walks into our office (or cubicle) and begins talking to us about something totally unrelated to our task at hand. Or they might pull us away from our work to help them, or someone else, out with a project they are having difficulty with.
Whatever the reason for the distraction, our work becomes interrupted and our concentration is broken. We are pulled out of our “work zone” to work on something other than our own projects, to engage in something other than our work, that quite frankly – we really don’t have time for. But what do we do? We don’t want to alienate our co-workers and we want to be seen as a team player.
Following are three simple tips to help avoid and/or minimize interruptions from your workday.
- Stop interrupting yourself and your own work flow by staying focused on the task at hand. Not opening your email and turning off your “chat” and/or IM ability on your computer can help achieve this. In addition, shut off your cell phone; that doesn’t mean put it on vibrate – it means shut it off completely and then put it away in a desk drawer or in your handbag. Don’t leave it out on your desk because this will only tempt you to look at it. Out of sight – out of mind!
- Create a “Do Not Disturb” or “STOP” sign (or some other creative sign that tells people not to bother you) and put it either on the back of your chair or on top of your desk (or click onto the top of your computer). If people come by to talk to you, don’t look up from your computer or your phone, just point to the sign and go on about your business.
- Write down all your ideas regarding business initiatives and label: “to be discussed later.” Let’s say you come up with an ingenious solution to a work problem – or a fabulous business initiative while you are in the middle of working on a task other than the one related to the idea that just popped into your head. Instead of interrupting your work and the work of your colleagues and/or boss by running into their office to tell them about your stroke of genius – or by sending them an email marked “urgent”, write your solution or idea down in your phone, computer or on a piece of paper- and then at an appropriate time, discuss it with the appropriate people. Doing this will prevent you from doing three (3) things: 1) interrupting your own work, 2) interrupting your colleague’s work and 3) forgetting your brilliant
Operationalizing these three (3) simple strategies will help you to avoid, or totally eliminate distractions and interruptions in the work place, allowing you and your co-workers to be more efficient and optimize your time at work!
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