Work Interrupted: How to Limit Distractions

Seventy-nine. That’s how many times I was interrupted at work the other day. Even keeping the tally was a distraction, but the research was for a good cause.

In the modern workplace, where we wear so many hats that our hats are wearing hats, interruptions are commonplace. From people stalking us immediately after hitting the send button (“Did you get my email?”) to bosses calling us into their offices every hour on the hour, something has to give.

[See Tips for Breaking Up With a Job.]

After making several mistakes at work, I decided it was time to re-evaluate the way I was working. My conclusion: I am being interrupted far too frequently. Plagued by a similar problem? Try these quick fixes.

Make yourself unavailable. Even at the turn of the century, doctors were letting us know whether they were in or out of the office with signs. The same way you wouldn’t interrupt a radio deejay when the ‘on air’ light is illuminated, you should not address coworkers when they are clearly engrossed in other activities. As such, find your own version of an ‘on air’ light. Perhaps it’s as subtle as a pencil behind your ear and reading glasses; or maybe you need a physical sign for your cubicle wall.

Commit yourself to monotasking. One might be the loneliest number, but sometimes it’s solitude that allows us to achieve greatness. When you find yourself engaging in multitasking, stop yourself, literally. Decide which item you need/want to work on and shut everything else out. If another item creeps up after you have committed to a primary task, remind yourself, aloud, that you have already vowed to finish X before working on Y.

Read more of my post at U.S. News & World Report.

Speak Your Mind