Interruptions are a normal part of everyone’s day. Your attitude towards distractions is important. When you become frustrated over things you have no control over, you add another layer of problems to the situation. You have the power to choose your own mindset, and becoming irritated can build unnecessary resentment towards others.
Relax, and remember many interruptions are important and unavoidable. Here are some practical tips to help manage interruptions in your day.
Give yourself time in the day for interruptions by adding them to your task list.
Add interruption tasks into your task manager. As interruptions pop up, rename them with who did the interrupting and a brief description including how long it took. At the end of the day, you can go back to review interruptions and see which ones you may be able to minimize in the future.
Use Focused Work Blocks
Use the Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and shut down all distractions (phone, email, extra tabs, etc.). Let others know you are working (use a signal like a closed office door, a whiteboard sign that says “Focused Work Time – I’ll be done at 2:15”, etc.). When the 25 minutes is up, you can take a 4 minute break.
Inform others of your work schedule. You might send an email to people likely to interrupt you announcing your intentions and asking for their help “In an effort to get work done in a more focused way, I’m going to plan focused work time between x and z to have distraction free work. Will you please help me with this?”
Interruptions are often impossible to control. Distractions are usually something you can control.
You may need to “hide” and find a quiet place with few distractions.
If you have a really hard time figuring out what things distract you the most, you might need to keep a log of how you spend your time using a tool like Toggl.
If you have an addiction to a social media or other time-sucking website, you might start weaning yourself off of them by using a browser extension like Stay Focused.
Strengthen your “no” muscle
Learning to say no is a lot easier than living with the consequences of always saying yes.
“I’m not available right now, can we schedule a time to talk later?” is a sentence you may need to practice using to gain more control over your time.
Learn to be a master of your mind, your workflow, and your time. No one will protect your time for you. It is your responsibility to take charge of your life. When you start managing your interruptions and distractions you will become a master at getting the most important things done, and not feel so overwhelmed.