Strategies for Managing Interruptions

Administrative Assistant Resource
September 13, 2013 — 2,311 views  
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Interruptions are a part of everyday work life, but sometimes they can take up to 2 hours of a day. This could cause a lot of stress and burn you out on a long term basis. Time management can be essential to reducing interruptions and increasing productivity in turn. These simple techniques we’ve outlined can help you use your time effectively.

Rounding up Sources

The first step for effective time management is to find out the sources of interruption. This could be done by keeping a log of interruptions every day for maybe a week. Observation could help identify interruptions that weren't apparent earlier. The interruptions could then be analyzed and classified into valid, urgent or invalid. Usually patterns emerge. The valid interruptions must be dealt with while ways must be found to block out invalid ones. Some of them might even be essential to running the business. One could also assess how the interruptions affect the team as well.

The most common interrupters are lack of self-discipline and time spent on phone calls or emails. These are closely followed by noise and visual distractions, social and idle conversations, crisis and visitors that turn up. Once valid interruptions are analyzed, time management strategies are easier to strategize.

Creating a Game-plan

Making prioritized to do lists in the beginning of a day go a long way into making a game plan. But the main aim is to stick to them. These lists could get extensive though, therefore they need to be realistic and manageable. Once the log of interruptions is analyzed, the amount of time taken by valid and urgent interruptions can be set aside as a chunk for contingencies. Though not all valid interruptions are urgent and learning to politely say no can help sticking to the to-do list. Routine meetings can be held to handle valid but non-urgent matters.

Voice mail can also help screen calls so that they can be dealt with priority at a suitable time that could be part of the schedule. Give at least half the time to thoughts and activities or conversation that prove productive. Creating similar strategies based on the results of the interruption log can help make time management easier.

Stop Interruptions before They Take Place

The best way to deal with interruptions that hinder productivity is to stop their occurrence in the best way possible. This includes switching off instant message and social networking sites unless they are useful. Employees can be informed about available and unavailable time and this can be enforced by a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign or any other sign that is agreed upon. Having an assistant manage phone calls can also help in dealing with calls with priority.

Training oneself to go back to the to-do list after an interruption is also important. Turning off the email notifications helps a lot too; they can always be dealt with at a decided time. Interruptions can only be minimized though, some of them are unavoidable. Through all the time management, one should also have time to breathe and not let the schedule become stressful. Time for delays should also be considered as a clear mind is needed for decision making.

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