Posted June 26, 2019 - Emma Mills in Uncategorized
Your time is valuable and if you let yourself get distracted by interruptions throughout the day, it can be a massive hindrance to your productivity.
You have a certain number of hours in the day for work and too many interruptions can interfere with your mission to grow a successful business.
So, what can you do reduce and manage interruptions?
In this blog post (and on episode 117 of Mi-TV), I share my three top tips to help you deal with interruptions at work, maintain focus and manage your time more effectively.
Before we get into the tips, let’s take a moment to identify some of the common interruptions people experience at work.
The number one interruption we all face at work is from our team members. This is a common one because our team members are going to have questions for us from time to time. However, if you’ve got a member of the team who repeatedly comes to you with an abundance of questions, it can become a serious problem.
Another common interruption CEO’s face at work is via apps like WhatsApp. When you’ve got lots of messages from chat apps like this, it can really hinder productivity. Clients may expect quick replies and even show frustration if you don’t respond immediately. This can take up a lot of your time if you don’t set the right expectations early on.
The third interruption we’re going to talk about is when clients show up to your office unexpected and assume you can automatically make time for them. This one is super annoying because you don’t want to be rude to your clients and yet, your time is valuable and there’s a good chance you’ve already made plans and don’t have the time to accommodate surprise drop-ins.
To help you get your time back, here’s my top three tips to manage workplace interruptions:
Sometimes interruptions are unavoidable. But there is a way to limit them by planning for interruptions ahead of time.
The best way to do this is to schedule check-in times with people during the day. This can be 30 minutes to an hour of the day where you dedicate your time to an individual or a group to discuss issues, solve problems and ‘put everything on the table.’
At Mi-PA, I set aside 30 minutes from 12.30pm to 1pm where I meet with two key members of the team to talk about any issues we have and to give them a chance to ask me questions. Of course, if there’s any urgent matters that need attending to outside of that time slot, I’ll cater to those accordingly.
Planning time for interruptions is a great way to restrict the amount of time you spend doing things outside of your main priorities. It means that everyone in the team knows when they can reach you so that they’re not coming to you with questions every minute of the day.
You can even ask them to keep a list of questions or topics they’d like to discuss with you. Then, when the time comes, they can hand you the list to go through within the time slot you pre-planned.
You can’t change other people’s perception of your time until you change your own. This means understanding that your time is valuable and it’s okay to say no when you need to.
A good example is when it comes to responding to WhatsApp messages. For some reason, a lot of people assume that when you send someone a message on WhatsApp, it should fast-track a response from that person. First of all, that’s not true. And secondly, you shouldn’t assume that somebody will always have time for you.
The same can be said for your clients. If you’re busy working on things that will help push the business forward and your phone buzzes with a new WhatsApp notification, you’re not obligated to respond straight away.
There are times when you’re available and times when you aren’t. Learn to change your mindset and remember that your time is valuable.
One of the best ways to regain control of your time and manage interruptions at work is to let your team (and clients) know when you’re available and when you’re not. That way, everyone’s on the same page.
If you find that people keep interrupting you throughout the day, it’s probably because they think it’s okay to do so. Maybe you’ve developed a habit of getting back to people asap and now they’ve come to expect your immediate response.
If you run a business from a physical location, there’s always a chance that you’ll get an unexpected visit from a client. Sometimes, this is unavoidable. However, there are ways to reduce the chances of something like this happening.
It begins by setting expectations with your clients. Let them know that if they want to see you or schedule a meeting, it has to be pre-booked. Showing up and demanding your time on the spot isn’t acceptable unless it’s an emergency. And even then, it’s hardly ever an emergency!
A great way to help you get in the right mindset to tackle interruptions effectively is to imagine every hour of your time is worth £1,000. You can spend that hour working on your business and doing things that you need to do to drive it forward, pay everyone’s wages and stay afloat. Or, you can spend it answering unimportant questions that could’ve waited for another time.
Which will you choose?
How do you want to spend your time at work?
It’s important that other people learn to perceive you (and your time) in a way that means they can’t just grab an hour of your time whenever they like. They need to be made aware that your time isn’t always guaranteed. You may have other plans in that time and things that you need to focus on.
I hope that you found these top three tips to help you deal with interruptions useful. If you have a favourite or want to share a tip of your own, let me know!
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