Time Management: How To Minimize Interruptions
If you?re like most busy executives, you know that interruptions are a big drain on your productivity. While all interruptions can?t (and shouldn?t) be prevented, here are some ways you can minimize them and gain more control over your time.
* Identify your priorities. If there?s a key project you need to give uninterrupted time to, earmark an hour or two early in the morning to work on it. Do it before you handle client calls, check email, etc. Consciously creating space for your top priorities is an excellent way to manage your time.
* Let your colleagues and subordinates know that you come in early to office and prefer to spend the initial hour or so (e.g., till 9:00 am) working alone on your projects. Let everyone know you are available for meetings only after that time.
* Where possible, create a certain amount of isolation while you?re working on something important. You might choose to close your door, or even work inside a conference room for a short while.
* It?s a good idea to arrange your office / desk so that you don?t face the traffic or are in the midst of traffic. This helps you concentrate better and minimize interruptions.
* If there are files or resources in your area that others frequently access, shift them.
I knew one manager who had a photocopy machine right in front of his desk, with only a clear glass partition in between. It was a huge distraction for him because people were using the machine continually. On top of that, when they see him at his desk, many would stop by to chat as well!
You can imagine the waste of time that meant. He found it much easier to work after he had the photocopier shifted elsewhere.
* If you have a secretary or other assistant, let him know that no interruptions are permitted during the time you?ve blocked off for key projects. Also let them know what interruptions are ok at other times. Give them the authority to schedule meetings for you during blocks of time you set up for the purpose.
* Where possible, tell subordinates to bunch together problems they want to discuss with you so that you can deal with all those issues in a single meeting. Of course, this may not always be feasible.
* When someone asks you for a short meeting, offer to drop into their office at a specific time. That way, you?re in control of the time. And you avoid the possibility of their dropping into your office and spending an inordinate amount of time there.
* If they need to meet you immediately, ask them for an estimate of how much time they need. Agree to meet them for that amount of time. This puts them under a certain amount of pressure to finish the meeting at the earliest. Don?t try this with your boss!
* If someone comes to your office and rambles on beyond what is necessary, tell him that you have to go elsewhere for a meeting right now. Or invent some other plausible reason for making an exit.
An organization can function effectively only if there is a significant amount of interaction among team members. So do make sure that your attempts to gain productive time are not at the expense of the real needs of your organization.
About the Author: Kate Regent is passionate about using time effectively. Her articles at http://www.time-management-facts.com/ and http://www.time-management-facts.com/delegation.html cover tips for managing time, the whys of delegation, time management techniques and more.