Time Management Tips For Beginners #09: Interruptions
Did you know that the average worker is interrupted about seven times an hour, which adds up to 56 interruptions a day, 80% of which are considered trivial, according to time-management experts.
At home anyone with children knows that going to the bathroom alone is a huge accomplishment. It’s hard to get anything done without being interrupted by your children.
So how to you minimize interruptions at work and at home? Today I went live on my Facebook profile for video #9 of the Time Management Tips For Beginners about how to manage interruptions. You can watch the video here:
There are several ways to manage your time when it comes to interruptions. However, the way you approach them at work and at home will be very different. First, we will talk about managing interruptions at work.
How To Handle Interruptions At Work
Gossip and chit chat can be fun and make it seem like time passes by faster when you are working. But how much time do you think you are actually spending on work? Many say that in an eight hour day only two hours are spent doing actual work. I would say that sounds pretty accurate considering how many times I am interrupted while trying to approve reports.
So how do you deal with co-workers asking questions about how to write a report, the boss needing a “situation” handled right away and unscheduled meetings? Here is the appropriate way to handle them. The question is do you have the leadership and guts to stand your ground?
As a Police Sergeant you have to handle a variety of different things every day. I would say first off the public never waits. Until the public is served approving Officers’ reports, checking e-mail and completing other paperwork has to be put on the back burner.
Now that I got that out of the way, we can talk about your daily activities at work. Ask yourself the following questions when you are interrupted at work by a co-worker:
Questions To Consider:
- Does this have to be handled now?
- Is this aligned with what I am currently focusing on?
- Does this align with my goals?
- Is this a productive activity?
It doesn’t have to be done immediately if you answer no to these questions. Do your co-workers or subordinates come to you are a source of information? Maybe you do have more knowledge than them, but are they using you as a crutch?
Instead of giving them the answer have them find it themselves. If you are in a leadership position at work this is critical to having independent workers. Your team shouldn’t come to you with answers they can find themselves. Hold them accountable and you will have less interruptions during your day. If you have a door to your office, keep it closed when you are working on critical tasks. A closed door means you are busy. If you have some co-workers that don’t understand that concept, a do not disturb sign is great to add to it.
Answering phone calls and e-mails can be a continuous project. Delay them until you have time in your schedule to respond. It isn’t rude either. Set designated time for these tasks
If you have bosses who like to throw work on you at the last minute you need to set limits. Let them know that the activity will be done by a specific time on the day it is due. Then add it to your schedule accordingly.
Time Management Tips For Beginners: How To Manage Interruptions At Home
This is a much harder interruption to deal with. Some children don’t understand personal space. My son is an only child and is constantly seeking attention. He also interrupts when I am talking to someone.
There is also the interruptions while making meals, sitting down to rest or while I am typing this blog post (he wants 7 pickles and 1 cheddar cheese stick).
I am trying to teach my son not to interrupt when people are talking and to get him to be creative with his toys and activities. If you have more than one child you are lucky because if they are close in age they have each other to play with. When you have to cook a meal or make an important business call at home, tell your child this ahead of time. Ask them if they need anything and let them know they won’t be able to get it once you start dinner or the call.
Set expectations up front and do not give in unless it’s an emergency or you have to intervene before your youngest thinks it’s a fine time to give the cat a bath in the toilet.
Sometimes, avoiding interruptions are impossible. However, you can set up expectations for your children and your co-workers so they know your boundaries. Remember, your work comes first and then you can gossip away.