3 Tips For Managing Interruptions

Written by geordiejimb

Topics: Articles, Time Management

Grandfather Clock Face Waters building EXPLORE 4-8-08 2828Nothing kills your groove like an uninvited guest at your door, or your phone constantly ringing off the hook.

There are some interruptions you just can’t avoid – your spouse or children, or perhaps your boss, but the majority of interruptions be avoided entirely, or at least postponed for a more suitable time.


Plan For Them!

Just like dinner tonight, you know interruptions are going to happen, so why not avoid the hassle and prepare for them ahead of time?  Interruptions aren’t planned I hear you say, how can you plan for something random, something you have no control over?

Well, there are certain types of interruption that you need to anticipate – such as the co-worker who just likes to stop by and gossip, your mother-in-law who just wants to call and chat, and the micro-managing boss who just won’t leave you alone long enough to get things done.

While you might not know when they will occur, it’s a fair bet they will, so be prepared in advance for how you will handle them when they occur.

Here are 3 tips you can implement today to help you manage this type of interruption.

Petrina's 'Busy - do not disturb' signUse Busy ‘Signals’: Overt signs can be a great way to let  people know you are busy – Use an Out-of-Office message, a Busy sign on your door, set your Instant Messenger status to busy or turn it off entirely, or whatever sign is appropriate to where you are and what you are doing.

Other signals you can send include standing up to greet a visitor and not immediately sitting back down; this gives the visitor the impression they are interrupting you, which of course they are.

Avoid Conversations: If they get past your busy signals, don’t engage the other person in casual conversation, get right to the point and let them know you are busy.  Try opening the dialogue with a direct question like:

  • How can I help you?
  • What can I do for you?’
  • Can it wait until…?
  • I’m a little busy right now, will it take long?

Keep an Accurate Schedule: In the event they do need some time, or don’t appear to have picked up on the obvious fact you are busy, you can refer them to your busy calendar and ask them to come back at a more suitable time.

It’s ok to see them off with an apology that you can’t fit them in right now, but stay firm and arrange a more suitable time to follow-up.

Most people get busy at some point, and they should understand you do sometimes too.  Handle the interruption politely, but firmly, and return to the task at hand in as short a time as possible to avoid losing your train of thought.

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