Interruptions and distractions at work are an inevitable part of the work day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it affects our ability to focus on important tasks. The Harvard Business Review wrote that “40% of [survey] respondents reported experiencing more than 10 interruptions per day, with 15% reporting more than 20 interruptions a day. Research across several other surveys suggest that employees — from IT professionals to health care providers — are interrupted every six to 12 minutes.” Here are some tips for how to manage distractions and interruptions in the office.
Communicate with your office
Communicating with your co-workers is the best way to avoid interruptions at work. For example, you can Slack your coworkers to say you need a couple hours to focus on a project. You could also include “distraction free” time on your calendar. As The Muse points out, one great way to do this is to come up with a go-to phrase that lets your colleague know you’re not available and that you will follow up with them when you are. For example, The Muse offers the following: “I’m swamped right now, can you send me a meeting request?”
Incorporate interruptions into your day
You know you will face interruptions during your day, so try to plan for these moments accordingly. Rather than avoiding interruptions at all cost, create a schedule around the interruptions. Identify your typical daily interruptions and when they are most likely to occur. For example, you may get more phone calls during the morning, so plan to do the tasks that require the greatest focus in the afternoon. In other words, maximize the quieter hours of your day.
Use helpful anti-procrastination tools
There are apps and setting options on your cell phone or computer that can help you avoid procrastination. If you need to focus on a single task, put your phone on “do not disturb” (unless you may get urgent messages that way), mute your Slack channel, or close out your email. There are websites and apps on your computer that will block you from visiting websites like Facebook or Twitter for periods of time if you find yourself scrolling aimlessly throughout the day. Try these out, and you may find that you have more time to focus even with the distractions and interruptions that come with office life.
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