Interruptions in the workplace are all too common. Not only do various interruptions kill productivity, but they can be frustrating and sometimes even downright unnecessary. Furthermore, research has found that, “it can take more than 25 minutes on average to resume a task after being interrupted, and frequent interruptions can lead to exhaustion, increased stress and can double error rates.” Minimizing interruptions and staying on top of your productivity game comes down to setting upfront agreements with yourself and others. Check out these tips to avoid distractions.
Perhaps the biggest cause of interruptions? Team members in the office. You may find yourself in the middle of something important that requires your full attention, and suddenly you’re hit with a storm of questions and your focus is lost. In a scenario such as this, it’s a great idea to create a designated block of time each day when team members can come to you with questions. At that designated time, you can be fully present to address the questions and concerns of your team members, which means you are all being more productive than when you allow interruptions throughout the day.
Exceptions to this upfront agreement should be addressed ahead of time. For example, if your team needs to interrupt you for an emergency, you need to clearly define what an emergency is before something comes up so they know when to interrupt you and when something can wait for your full attention. It may also be a good idea to hold brief meetings with certain team members toward the end of each day, or longer meetings once a week to address any outstanding issues that arise.
Dealing with client related interruptions can be a little more tricky than those of your team members, but there are a few efficient and polite ways to handle them that make sure you are able to stay focused and the client continues to feel like they are being taken care of. If you attempt to reach a client but are initially unable to, inform them to call you back at a certain time of day when you’re not immersed in work. If you do receive a call during a busy time of day, instruct your receptionist to let them know you’ll be able to return their call at a specific time. This lets the client know they are a priority for you and also eliminates repeat calls for the same issue.
Again, setting a clear definition with your team members about what constitutes a client-related emergency will help your team prioritize calls you need to make later or, if necessary, take immediately.
If you experience your mind wandering into inane matters while you’re in the middle of something important, your productivity can quickly dwindle. Accordingly, it’s important to learn how to zone out these distractions and stay engaged in the task at hand. One technique to consider is to write a note of whatever pops in your head so you can get it out of your mind and address it later. You may also want to check out productivity or task management apps to help you weed out distractions and stay more focused.
Keep in mind that forcing yourself to continue to work when your mind begins to wander more and more often can actually be counterproductive. If you find that you have been working on a task for a while and you are struggling to stay focused on it, allow yourself to take a short break to walk around the office or get some water to give your mind a chance to refocus.
Cell phones, email and social media, can also eat away at your productivity. If you find technology to be distracting, consider turning off your cell and closing your email and social media sites during critical work sessions. Commit to checking these media only during a specific block of time.
With clear upfront agreements and a little planning and strategizing, you should be able to keep the majority of interruptions at bay. Not only will this help you maintain better concentration and be more productive, your stress level should also reduce and your clients and team members should feel more a sense of priority when you devote time to them.
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555