Saturday, February 11, 2012

Managing interruptions at work


It happened many times in my working life when I planed and scheduled a number of tasks to accomplish in my working hours but ending up accomplishing nothing or less and ineffectively due to interruptions of different nature. Some of these interruptions are emails, phone calls, out of appointment guests, face-booking, twitting, laziness feeling,  out of office negative feeling and so many other interruptions.

I kept on feeling guilty for not accomplishing my tasks due to these interruptions until I discovered a way to overcome them. 

You might have been suffering from the same problem at your work office and this is applicable to any kind of work and office you are, if not these kind of interruptions then there are other kinds. Let me share with you some of the few techniques I use to manage them and make my working hours accomplished with achievement of my tasks.

1.      Scheduling your day: make sure in the evening before you go to sleep you write in your diary a schedule for tomorrow, write down each task and activity you want to accomplish in the next day together with it’s time to be done, this will enable you stay focused on what you are going to do and it will increase your commitment level to it as you won’t be in need of wasting time by accepting unnecessary interruptions so as you can accomplish your task on time.

Why scheduling before you go to sleep?

Human psychology shows that if you plan something and go to sleep, your mind keep on cementing it and memorizing it until you  wake up, some time it can make you dream about it hence a concrete strategic plan to accomplish it is done as you are asleep. This easy your tomorrow’s implementation. And also by doing so you increase the level of your comfort- ability in the next day.

2.      Stay focused on your schedule; in the next day stay focused on your schedule until you accomplish your planned tasks, inform your staff members how scheduled you are and let them know at which moment you will be free for chatting and making stories normally use tea breaks and lunch time to meet most of the casual appointments

3.      Plan a specific time for emailing and face-booking etc: if you won’t plan a special time to read and write emails, using social media networks etc then you will be surprised how these stuffs take all your time of working and accomplishing your tasks. Normally I read emails and answer few of them which are important in the morning before I start my works, then in afternoon after getting lunch and then in evening before I leave the office. And for the case of long emails with attachments that do not demand me to reply immediately, I download and read them at home when I am relaxed. You can also unsubscribe from the networks which are useless to you so that you stop receiving their frequent mails to your inbox. Switch off your mobile phone if interrupts you or put it in silence so that you can’t hear its ringing then set a special time to reply some messages and missed calls after work.

4.      Change your office setup: if you are office is much interrupted by guests due to its position which is may be open to passerby, decide to turn your table and chair to the wall side so that people can see you at your back. This will enable them think you are so busy and stop coming to your office interruptive and if one enters in and you don’t like him or her stay in for long just stand up while speaking, this will destroy his/her comfort zone to seat and stay there for long, and if your office is faced with many people coming in any time just remove guest’s chairs so that they cannot get a chance to seat in. 

Also you can use your secretary if she/he is there to receive all guests and allow or disallow unimportant guests by receiving their queries to meet you later. You can also put a written sign on your table or hang it on your office door outside “PLEASE DON’T DISTURB”, this will help to avoid people who wanted to interrupt you, stop coming.

5.      Set appointments: try to set an appointment to anybody who asks to meet you; don’t make them perceive you as good and an open space person by telling them “NO PROBLEM JUST COME ANYTIME!” By doing so you will end up disappointing most of them and fulfilling to meet few of them in all your time as a result you will be spending all your time meeting people instead of working. Visit your task schedule then see where you have space and make an appointment with such a person by telling him/her the time you are going to spend in your meeting with him/her and then be punctual.

These are among few techniques I use to manage a number of interruptions at my work but an important technique which determines the possibility of managing all the interruptions is to plan and make a schedule and then commit yourself to accomplish all the scheduled tasks by staying focused on it. Being focused and committed to it you will automatically adopt yourself to above techniques.

Interruptions at work are increasing everyday in relation to technological advancement so we have to learn how to overcome them everyday otherwise our level of delivering at work will be declining every day.

By Erick Chrispin

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