By Managing those Pesky Interruptions! by Heidi Richards Mooney

Did you know … most of us experience on average one interruption every 8 minutes? That’s approximately 6 interruptions each working hour. That means that in an 8-hour workday, we can have between 50-60 interruptions. Did you also know that the average interruption is about 5 minutes in duration? Think about it, 50 – 5 minute interruptions each day adds up to 250 minutes! That means that in an 8 hour workday, 4 hours are spent addressing interruptions (unplanned events). No wonder we sometimes feel as though we have not accomplish anything.

Interruptions can be either acceptable (important) or unacceptable (of little or no importance). Acceptable interruptions are those that add value to our day, and unacceptable ones are those that have little or no value. Some interruptions are within your control (family, friends, phone calls, emails) and others need to be addressed when they occur (superiors, customers). Only you can determine what you consider to be an acceptable interruption.

In addition to unexpected phone calls I consider a messy desk an interruption as it takes more time to find things when I am disorganized. Flashes of Inspiration are also big interruptions to my goals. I use to stop what I was doing and start a completely new project Now when I get an idea, I write it down in my idea journal to look at later rather than stop what I am currently working on – it often takes away momentum you have for a project at hand and can take that much more energy to get back to the place you were.

What are some of yours?

What takes away from achieving higher levels of productivity are those unacceptable interruptions, those things we think we have little or no control over. Surprisingly, we have more control than we think. Here is a tried and true system to manage those interruptions, both acceptable and unacceptable.

~ Write down all the interruptions you have in a day… see what category they fall into and work on ways to avoid or manage them. Look for patterns to those interruptions. This way you can decide if these are interruptions you can control or not.

~ Establish your own priorities.

~ Schedule those known interruptions such as emails, phone calls, setting aside time each day to check email and return phone calls.

“Each of us has the same 24 hours each day to do with what we will..”

~ Determine real emergencies vs. those things that can wait. Someone else’s emergency may not be an emergency for you.

~ Prioritize your own goals and plans for the day.

~ Block out your peak time – the time of day when you are most productive and do not allow anything to come between you and your plans.

~ Weigh the value of each interruption against the value of your own plans.

~ Decide not to accept interruptions just because they occur.

~ Set aside time each day for unplanned interruptions.

~ To further minimize interruptions, tell your circle the best time of day to call you in order to get your attention.

Planning is the key to successfully managing interruptions. You will be amazed at what a few minutes of planning a day will do to add to greater productivity and a sense of real accomplishment. Remember, each of us has the same 24 hours each day to do with what we will. How will you make the most of your 24?