Use Your Tools - Shutting The Door On Interruptions - Part 2
Well, funny isn?t it, that something like interruptions can
cause someone to ramble on and on... I was reading back over my
article from last issue, and it occurred to me that there are
other things that cause interruptions besides humans ? and that
THEY need to be addressed as well.
Here are some tricks I?ve found effective in my home office.
They may not all be applicable to those of your working in a
corporate environment, but they may inspire you to find a
If your work involves hours a day on a computer, I bet there?s
a good chance it also involves EMAIL.
Perhaps my biggest improvement in productivity came from turning
off my AUTOMATIC mail checking. I used to be so afraid of
missing an email the second it was sent, that I had my Outlook
checking automatically every 5 minutes.
Isn?t that ridiculous??
Now, if you don?t get a lot of mail, then perhaps you don?t
have this problem, but what happened was ? every time Outlook
checked for mail, the little envelope popped up in my systray
(the little bit down in the bottom right of your screen with
the clock) and DEMANDED my attention. Because I got (get)
ridiculous amounts of spam, there was rarely a time when it
checked mail and found nothing.
So, then, because I was addicted to this process, I?d stop what
I was doing and go and CHECK that email to see if it was of
life or death importance.
How many times do you think, in the past 6 years, I got an
email that was of life or death importance? (keep in mind I?m
not a doctor or crisis counsellor).
That?s exactly right. ZERO.
But, I can?t count how many hours I wasted checking mail every
5 minutes and then trying to get back to work.
Now I have my Outlook set to MANUALLY check the mail... The
difference is AMAZING! I can go for a couple hours at a stretch
without being interrupted by the little envelope. Sometimes I
even FORGET to check my mail and I LOVE those times. It reminds
me that I took my power back from my technology. It?s great.
Then, there?s the telephone.
Now certainly, it?s important to take calls from clients when
they first come in. And it?s VITAL to return calls as quickly
as possible. But sometimes, it?s not all necessary, and
sometimes, it?s even BETTER to let voice mail handle the call.
Where I live we have this nifty thing called TALKING CALLER ID.
When you?re on the phone with that very important client, and
someone else is calling you ? this lovely female voice will
interrupt and tell you the name or location of the incoming
caller. You can then decide if you need to cut off your current
call, put them on hold, or let the new call go to voice mail.
Although it does interrupt your call for a second, it can save
you much time & anxiety about missing calls, wasting time with
telemarketers, or prioritizing. IF you?re expecting a call
that?s simply info you've requested, hopefully you had
foresight enough to request they "just leave it on my voicemail
if I miss your call".
If you work at home and share a line with the household calls
(smart ring type situation), then you can differentiate between
calls for the teenager and calls for you. And be honest, during
business hours, YOUR WORK CALLS come first. Or at least, I
think that?s how it ought to be.
And a little more on the Instant Messenger syndrome.
Oh, a blessing and a curse those little things are. I use
Yahoo! Messenger. I ONLY use it for interaction with clients.
I used to use ICQ, but got fed up with being solicited by
strangers. I strongly recommend use of an instant messenger,
but it does have it?s pros & cons.
IT?S CHEAP. It?s a fantastic way to keep overhead down, and
still have total access to your clients. If you have a
microphone & speakers you can talk in realtime without racking
up long distance charges. Clients like that.
IT?S CONVENIENT. Well, most of the time. You can buzz or be
buzzed and leave messages, all within your regular workflow.
IT?S INSTANT. Hence, the name... instant messenger. But that
also means INSTANT INTERRUPTION. Now, you CAN set most so that
you don?t get a visual or audio alert when there?s a new
message, and I recommend you do that.
IT?S PRONE TO ABUSE. We all have ?em... clients who think that
they are your only client and thus, you should be there the
moment they need you. So be selective WHICH clients you give
your IM ID to... :D
RECORD KEEPING can be a pain. If you have a ?conversation? with
a client by typing, most IM?s will keep an archive so you can
go back through them. Make sure you?ve set yours to do so, if
you want that. I forgot to set mine when I reinstalled last
summer, and lost DAYS of notes & conversations. Obviously, the
voice-enabled conversations aren?t recorded, so you still have
to take notes. And so far, in Yahoo! Messenger at least, I
haven?t found a way to SEARCH the archives, so you have to go
through each day?s messages by hand to find what you need.
(if you know of a search function for Yahoo! IM, PLEASE tell me)
So, there are a few more hints for keeping your interruptions
down and your productivity up. Use as required. Call me in the
morning if you?re not feeling better.
About the Author: Kera is a small business internet coach, developer, designer and administrator. Offering complete business support from web management to book packaging to database design & deployment, her clients enjoy one-stop-service and continuity from Kera and her talented team of professionals. www.time4somethingelse.com