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Minimising Interruptions for Improved Productivity  30.07.2007

Your actions every day teach people how to treat you. Similarly, your co-workers respond to you in a way that has been developed and reinforced over time. If you have allowed yourself to be interrupted with an ‘open door’ policy then the interruptions will continue. And interruptions are a huge time waster!!

Research shows that it typically takes around 5 – 10 minutes once starting a task to reach the optimal level of performance. If you get interrupted, then it typically takes another 5 – 10 minutes to return to your peak. Therefore you can imagine how unproductive you become if you are interrupted all the time. Some jobs require constant interruptions! If this is the case all you can do is minimise them where you can. But many jobs do not need the many interruptions that plague your productivity. So how do you minimise interruptions?

  • Use the green flag / red flag approach. The green flag means that you can be interrupted under the guidelines you have set. The red flag means that you should only be interrupted under highly important circumstances, again which you have made very clear.
  • Let your team know the time of the day you are working on your own and therefore you are not to be interrupted.
  • If people constantly need to get files and other resources from you, consider putting them out in a shared area.

What can you do if people walk into your office or workspace to minimise the interruption?

  • If someone needs a few minutes of your time, respond by saying “no problem, how does 3pm this afternoon sound? I will have completed what I need to by then.”
  • Consider standing up (if in a sit down office environment) – the chances of them sitting down and making themselves comfortable are greatly reduced.
  • If the interrupter is rambling ask them to summarise what you need to do for them. If you agree to assist them, decide on a specific time to do so that fits in with what you need to complete.

Once in your office or workspace, how can you keep the meeting short and to the point?

  • Always set a time limit. Only go over it if it absolutely essential.
  • Make sure the other person is aware of the time constraints.
  • Ask co-workers to save up issues that are important so that you can go through them all one by one, rather than intermittently. Note: Make sure that you have both your interests and the best interests of the organisation in mind.

The above points are a guide only, and different organisational circumstances require varying degree of compliance with the above measures. Good luck at minimising interruptions and increasing your productivity.

For more information on improving the productivity of your team contact Blake today.

Copyright www.blakebeattie.com 2007