Ways to Circumvent Interruptions.

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Ways to Circumvent Interruptions.

Ways to Circumvent Interruptions

Let's look at some ways to prevent and deal with interruptions.

Let Your Phone Take the Message

Voicemail and caller-ids exist for a reason. When working on important tasks that require your complete focus, let phone interruptions go to voicemail. Caller-ids will help you identify emergency calls that you need to attend to immediately. Otherwise, complete your task and then respond to the caller.

Check Your Email at Designated Times

Checking your email throughout the day is a sure way of losing focus on your task at hand. While your job may require you to check email regularly, it is generally best to do one thing at a time and to complete one task before moving on to the next. Try to limit yourself to checking email between tasks, rather than during tasks. Also, prioritize your responses to the email messages you receive. Answer only those that require immediate action, and respond to other, less urgent messages later when you have more time.

Handle People Interruptions

To curtail interruptions by your peers, there are some techniques you can use:

  1. Politely tell your colleague you need to get back to work.
  2. Ask your colleague if you can get back to him/her at another time.
  3. Work earlier or later in the day when the workplace may be quieter.
  4. Shut your office door.
  5. Mark yourself as busy on instant messenger (IM).

Schedule Difficult and Boring Tasks

In a given day, most people deal with different types of tasks. Some require intense focus and concentration and some are just simple yet boring tasks that need to be done. So, how does one juggle these different tasks and complete them in a given day?

Challenging Work Items

For tasks that are challenging and require most of your attention, set aside a specific time to work on them. Some studies have shown that people tend to be most productive and have the most energy in the morning. Think about what time of day you are most productive and schedule your most challenging work during this time.

Boring Work Items

We all have work items that must be done but that we find boring. Often the time spent on these work items is more than what they should actually take.

One technique recommended by Timothy Ferris in the Four Hour Workweek (New York: Crown Publishers, 2007, p. 84) is to use a stop watch or a timer to clock yourself while you complete this task. Consider setting a challenging time for a boring task and then going at it with the intent to beat the clock.