many times during your typical workday do you hear this question or its
equivalent in the form of an urgent email or a phone call requiring your
to a New York Times article on the chaos of modern
office life, you
probably hear it more times than you can count. Profiling a scientific study of
workplace interruptions, the article cites this finding:
"Each employee spent only 11
minutes on any given project before being interrupted and whisked off to do
something else. What's more, each 11-minute project was itself fragmented into
even shorter three-minute tasks, like answering e-mail messages, reading a Web
page or working on a spreadsheet. And each time a worker was distracted from a
task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task"
Given this steady stream of
interruptions, it is no wonder that many of us feel unproductive and depleted
at work. But, we are not powerless. Although we cannot eliminate them, we can
take steps to minimize office interruptions so we can accomplish more and
to diminish these distractions is to block off an hour or so each day when you:
fortify this no-interruption zone by responding to emails only at designated
times. A little communication also goes a long way. If someone comes to your
office or calls when you are busy, you can politely, but firmly, say: "I only
have five minutes right now. Can we set up another time to talk at greater
length?" Another trick of mine is to use more 'quiet' times in the office to
work on projects where I need uninterrupted concentration. For example, first
thing in the morning or lunchtime both work well for me to focus with minimum
For more practical tips on taming office interruptions, take a
look at these posts:
As always, feel free to share your tips and tools
for minimizing office interruptions with us.
by Candie Harris
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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.