You sit down and your PC, inspired, ready to get stuck in to your work, when the phone rings. You answer it, it’s your boss. She wants you to drop in to her office. All done, back at your desk you are ready to get started again. In walks your work colleague from down the hall asking you about a project you both worked on last month. You chat for a bit, he leaves, you are ready to go again, when a couple of your colleagues who sit around you start to chat about recent political happenings. You hear someone make a comment you strongly disagree with, so you can’t help but say your bit. Three hours after you first sat down you open the file to get started. Your stomach rumbles and you get an instant message: “You ready for lunch?”
This is an all too familiar scenario in modern offices. Open-plan designs make it difficult to get things done. It can be hard to block out the noise and activity going on around you. From your boss to your friends, your co-workers to your family, nobody seems to want you to get any work done.
Here are a handful of suggestions that can help you to minimize the interruptions and stay focused at work:
Switch off all notifications on your email and phone. If you have email notifications switched on you will get distracted each time you are informed there is new mail. It will take a lot of will power to stay focused and not be tempted to check it out.
Close all the programs that you are not currently using: email, browsers, Skype, and anything else that could disturb you from what you have planned to do.
If you really want to focus, switch off your phone, or at least put it on silent. The constant text messages, voice calls, and emails will make it near-impossible to focus properly and get any real work done.
If you plan the time in your schedule, you are much more likely not to allow interruptions to disturb your focus. You know how much time you have allocated to get this job done so you will be more motivated to get it done.
If possible, working from home can be a a clever solution to the incessant interruptions of the office. If you can organize it, give it a go — you will be much more productive and focused at home.
If working from home is not possible, think about moving to a meeting room or somewhere in your office that will be undisturbed. Only let your superiors know where you are. This will minimize your interruptions and allow you to get more work done.
Getting to the office before the rest of your team can be a simple solution to get some peaceful work time. In one undisturbed hour you may find you get more work done than you do in half a normal day.
If you are lucky enough to have an office, invest in a ‘do not disturb’ sign for your door. You can also put this sign on Skype or instant messaging services.
Your last hope is to be assertive and learn to say, “No.” Don’t be ready to help at a moment’s notice; let people know you are working on something and you will help out when you have a minute. Remember, your time is more important to you. When you say, “Yes,” to someone else, you are saying, “No” to yourself, or perhaps even to a loved one. Get assertive and reduce those interruptions to a minimum. This way you will get more done and maybe even have a life.
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