Have you ever noticed how many things will interrupt you throughout your day? And how often?
I have heard that we get interrupted, on average, about once every 6 to 8 minutes throughout the day. And, that it can take us 10-15 minutes (or more) to get our focus back on what we were doing before the interruption.
There is a real problem with that! The math doesn’t work! By those standards, the first interruption will derail your whole day.
What can you do about it?
Dan Kennedy says “If they can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you.” But in these days of 24/7 connectivity and accessibility, how do you make yourself un-findable?
Here are some things you might want to consider:
Turn off your email
Really, shut it off. Not for the whole day (I can hear you hyperventilating), but consider turning it off while you are focusing on that report you need to write, or that project you need to give your attention.
Let your calls go to voicemail
Maybe I am odd. But, I really have no trouble turning off my phone when I am in a meeting, or when I am working on something that requires my undivided attention. The world will not end if I don’t answer my phone for an hour!
Work somewhere else
Book a conference room, and close the door. Go to a coffee shop, or the library, or the park. Take yourself away from your own environment – co-workers won’t be able to stick their heads into your office/cubicle, and all the things that are distracting in your own office are not where you are.
Have a specific place for your work
If you work from home, have a specific place in your home to do your work. This really helps me. It is too easy to goof off if I am working on my living room couch instead of in my office. Everything in my office is about work. Everything in the rest of my home is about relaxation or play. If you don’t have a separate room, at least have a work area you don’t use for anything else.
Give yourself a break
Don’t try to focus for more than about 90 minutes at a time (at the most). Give yourself frequent breaks. This is a great way to deal with bright shiny object syndrome. I can focus on anything for a while, knowing that I will be able to take a break and distract myself in a little while.
These are just some of the techniques that will support you in managing the inevitable interruptions. Because they aren’t going to go away.
Now, which one are you going to try?