Tag Archive: phone interruptions

Chess&ClockYesterday I was focused on a couple of client projects, some content writing for the rest of the month, and a few webinars I added to the mix. That kind of a day calls for laser focus and staying on point. All day it seemed as though the phone was determined to deter my efforts. It rang, brought me text messages and sounded off with plenty of email notifications, but I won.

Last night while I looked back thinking about my day, the number of calls and text messages that came in really stood out for me and it made me think about something my father once said to me and I had to laugh. What he said was, “Just because the phone rings, doesn’t mean that I have to answer it.” He had made that comment to me when I was about 15 years old after me asking him how he could just sit there, right next to the phone and allow it to continue to ring until someone else answered it, or until the caller hung up. Of course, as a teenager, with her own phone in her bedroom to keep me from missing those “important” calls, I couldn’t possibly relate to his behavior. But now, I see the light.

He was so right, and what a strategic move to employ! People get so caught up in the things that cause distraction and even allow those things to take over and rule their day. If you want to get anything done, you can’t allow things to control or to dictate what you do and when you do it. There are ways of dealing with the interruptions that they bring that will contribute to your productivity and allow you to stay the course. The phone is one of the most popular interruptions that takes people off track any given day. If you’re working on a priority task, that isn’t the time to stop and answer the phone. That’s what voice mail is for. Give yourself permission to let your calls go to voice mail so that you can focus on the task at hand. It’s real easy to do by simply turning the sound or notifications off. Once you’re finished working on that task you can check the voice mail.

Better yet, get strategic and set a regular time to check voice mail and return calls each day. Set that time outside of what I call your Prime Time. Use your Prime Time to focus on the things that require you to be at your best, and save things like phone conversations and email for some point after that time. Doing so will make your day less frustrating and you’ll find that you get a lot more done. I had no idea all those years ago that my dad was teaching me something that would really make sense to me and would be advice that I would pass along to my clients. Just one of the many things I learned from him while he graced this planet with his presence.


We all are interrupted throughout the course of our workday, by people and by things that may not necessarily always be in our control.  No matter what the interruption is or how many of them we encounter during our day, if you want to have a very productive day, you have to get a handle on managing those interruptions.   Get ahead of the game and start by preventing interruptions before they occur.

When you control interruptions and eliminate distractions in your day, you have more time to work on the things that matter.  Look at the things that keep interrupting your day or keep you from working on what matters most.  What are the things that interrupt you the most and why? What’s interrupting you right now?  What can you do to put a stop to that distraction?

If you can’t answer this question right away, keep track over the period of one week of what is interrupting you and the reason for each interruption.  Also make a note of how much time you spend on each distraction.  At the end of the week, add up the accumulated time spent on the distractions. As you review your list, ask yourself what you can do to stop the various distractions.

One common interruption is the telephone.  It may not always be possible to not take phone calls or answer the phone, but there are times that it’s possible to have someone take messages, let the calls go to voice mail or place the phone on do not disturb and return calls later in the day.  This is especially helpful when you’re working on one of your top priority items.  You can keep working and know that you can still address the needs of those on the other end of the phone, just not right at that time.

Coworkers present another common interruption.  It might be that they come to your workspace or office because they need something from you.  To cut down on those interruptions, change your habits.  When someone enters your space, ask them what they need and let them know that if it’s something that will only take a few minutes, you can stop and help them right then; if it’s going to take longer, find out what it is that they need and set a time to talk to them or to get them what they need a little later in the day.  This helps keep you on track with your top priorities and keeps your day flowing.

Others may stop by because they want to chat about their weekend or something that happened.  It’s easy to get caught up in it, but it costs you precious time and brings your productivity level down.  If you have an extra chair in your office and you don’t want to remove it, try placing a personal item such as your briefcase or coat in it to stop people from coming in and sitting down.  If they have to stand, they may be inclined to spend less time in your office, but once they sit down, they are likely to spend more time visiting.  People are less likely to move personal items to sit down.

If you have an office, close the door occasionally to help curb interruptions.  For example, I used to do payroll at a job that I had some time ago, which is something where there was no room for error.  The problem was that I had multiple interruptions.  My remedy was to close my office door from the time I started the payroll process until I finished and then deal with the requests that people had after that.  That became my habit.  My coworkers got into the habit of not disturbing me on Monday mornings.  If they forgot and came to my office, they remembered that the closed door on a Monday meant that I was busy with payroll, and they could come back in a couple of hours.  They also came to know that if the door was closed at any other time that I couldn’t help them right then, but would be available later on.

These may seem like simple actions to take, but they are quite effective.  You develop new habits around interruptions and begin to learn how to handle them effectively and others begin to respect your time.  You will be surprised at how much these simple things can help increase your productivity level.


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