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In the current work environment of open plan designs, constant emails and phone calls, it is nearly impossible to stay focused.  Interruptions reduce our productivity and performance levels and affects our ability to stay focused on our work.

Below are a few simple suggestions to help you reduce interruptions.

Turn off notifications

Turn off all your notifications on your email and phone and schedule a few times per day to check your inbox and phone messages (of course this will depend on your role).  It is almost impossible to focus 100% when you are constantly receiving text messages, voice calls and emails. 

It will take a lot of will power to stay focused but the benefits of only checking a few times per day are enormous.

Schedule regular catch-up’s

Schedule regular catch-up’s with people you need to speak to on a regular basis.  Instead of having them approach you every 10 minutes with questions or updates, request they keep a list of all the items they need to discuss with you. You will have to do the same of course. You will soon realise that most of the issues are not urgent or can be resolved without any input from anyone else.

Create space for quality time

It is important to create a space to allow you to be 100% focused. Below are a few suggestions:

  • Consider working from home when working on important matters.  This will allow you to focus and avoid interruptions at the office. 
  • If working from home is not ideal, consider booking a meeting room for yourself or find another area in the office which will be undisturbed.  Make sure you let others know you will be working in a quiet area to keep focused.
  • Get to the office early.  This will allow you to find some quiet uninterrupted time.  You will be surprised at how much work you can get through.
  • If it is ok with others in your team, consider plugging your headphones in to indicate that you do not want to be disturbed and you are currently focused.  

Write it down

As you think about something you need to do, simply write it down or add it to your to do list, rather than continue to think about it over and over again which will only distract your mind from staying focused. A suggestion we have found useful is to keep a notepad nearby so you can quickly write your thoughts down.

Whilst we may not be able to eliminate interruptions we can certainly try to reduce them with the above tips.  What do you do to avoid interruptions and keep focused? 

Further Reading

You may also be interested in reading about Managing your Inbox.

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