Where do interruptions come from?
- Boss – Who often has the power when it comes to setting priorities
- Subordinates – The more accessible you are, the more they’ll use/abuse you
- Fellow workers – Interrupt for many reason, from social to work-related
- Clients and customers – These you can’t ignore
Dealing With Interruptions
When you’re interrupted, ask yourself what’s more important – the interruption or what you’re working on? You can keep a ‘To Do’ list to re-focus on what you should be doing after the interruption has gone away.
What you can do is try to keep interruptions short – ‘what do you want, why, when, etc?’ You can also keep a log of who/what interrupts you – a pattern may emerge.
You should also consider the following – they work for me!
- Be assertive – learn to deal with ‘Have you got a minute?’
- Invent deadlines
- Continue to look busy
- Stand up to interruptions
- Remove the chair in front of your desk
- Reduce eye contact
- Collect your papers, check your watch
- Go to them – this way you can leave any time
- Learn to say ‘no’
- Plan a quiet hour
And Finally – Beware Of ‘Monkeys’
Despite being a busy person, it is easy to get sucked into doing things for others. Often these tasks have nothing to do with your job (perhaps they interest you or you are flattered to be asked!).
Each time we say ‘yes’ to these requests, we collect another ‘monkey’ -namely a problem that started with someone else (who is working for whom?).
Furthermore, ‘monkeys’ eat into our discretionary time – the amount of time left after meeting the demands of boss and job.
‘Taking the monkey’ often means that you are taking on a problem. Also, you are preventing others from taking the initiative and dealing with it themselves.
So, to handle monkeys
- Deal with them as they happen (say ‘yes’, you can help or ‘no’, you cannot)
- Do not allow them to become too many to handle
- Feed them face-to-face only, or by phone (avoid memos or email)
- Feed them by appointment only – ‘Come and see me at …’
- Assign a next feeding time – ‘Try and if you get a problem, come back and see me.’
TIP: Never say ‘Leave it with me’!