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How to Avoid Lengthy Interruptions at Work

How to Avoid Lengthy Interruptions at Work
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It’s amazing how so many people do so little work. I know that I personally can waste time with the best of them, losing hours to meaningless email, workplace chatter and random meetings that accomplish next to nothing. As I’m rarely wasting time by myself, perhaps you or others can relate?

One of the most frustrating things about trying to be productive at work is the occasional “pop-bye” colleague who drops in and stays beyond a reasonable amount of time. What can you do to keep them moving along? Here are some suggestions:

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Reposition Your Desk: If your desk faces the doorway or a hallway, you might consider moving it towards a wall or so that you don’t seem as accessible to the sporadic drop-in. Sure, it’s less friendly but depending on your job, it might do the trick.

Buy a Large Clock: Placing a clock in a key location in your office is helpful as it allows you to look at it occasionally and then comment on it. “It’s getting late, I better get back to work,” or “Wow- 4:15 already,” are helpful lines that give your visitor a clue that you are actually trying to get work done.

Look at Your Watch: Sure, it’s rude and borderline obsessive-compulsive but it works. A quick glance to the watch will tell your friend that time is money and something not to be wasted. Your watch doesn’t even have to be working- your visitor doesn’t know but will quickly take the hint.

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Stand and Don’t Sit Down: When someone arrives for a pop-bye, stand and greet her but don’t sit down. Standing tells your visitor that you have things to do so let’s get on with it.

Use Savvy Lines Like “I’ll Walk You Out”: I’ve used this many times and it works wonders. You can also the visitor if they know the way to the front of the building or you can inquire about the location of their parking. You’re not being dishonest, only strategic with your time. Some folks can talk forever so the smart worker knows when it’s time to hit the evacuate button.

Head Out the Door to a Real Appointment: As you are a savvy knowledge worker, use your own schedule to your advantage and start heading out the door to your own meeting which is scheduled. A polite “excuse me, I have a meeting to attend,” is all you need to say.

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Head Out the Door to an Appointment With Yourself: If you don’t have a meeting with someone else, you can always schedule an on-the-spot meeting with yourself. Who says you can’t work in another location or even off-site? Know when to pick up some work and then move to another spot. You’ll decrease the time of the pop-in and probably get more work done in the new location.

Be Honest: Last but never least, honesty can be a potent conversation killer. Remember, you’re not being rude, only focused. If you just don’t have the time to chat, tell the other person or schedule a follow up at a time that works for you.

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Mike St. Pierre is the host of The Daily Saint, a productivity blog.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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