inspiring focus, simplicity, and purpose

Handling Interruptions at Work


Typical office environments do encourage interruptions.

For one thing, you are with other human beings and everyone typically needs interaction.

It’s not bad to have small talk with a best friend to ease a lot of stress away, as long as you are able to manage them properly.

But because everyone is given only 24 hours a day, several of small interruptions can cause a lot of delay in achieving goals.

Try measuring work in terms of tasks accomplished, not by hours spent. More hours spent on a single task doesn’t guarantee awesomeness. A task-based system makes you focus more on work finished than hours wasted.

Create daily and weekly To-Do lists to set your priorities and help you discern whether an interruption is valid or not. Yes, it should be noted that there are valid ones that are needed to be dealt with.

When you are interrupted, ask what they need and when they need it. You can use it as a basis to decide if you have the time to handle it or refer them to someone else. Do this politely but assertively.

Sometimes it’s easier to answer questions as quickly as possible and get back to your priorities. Say something like, “I have five minutes. What can I do for you?”

If it is your boss, let him know what you’re working on and ask which task should take priority. So whatever happens, it was his call, not yours.

The key is awareness. Identify and categorize these interruptions so you can know whether they are necessary or just that, an interruption.