Tag Archive: telephone interruptions



The current times that we are in have individuals experiencing heavier work loads and added responsibility and more and more entrepreneurs are being created. It’s more important now than it has been in the past to manage ourselves effectively.  Given that scenario, we all have to focus on getting more done with fewer resources. It’s important to get to the top priorities, manage time and projects, empower and keep ourselves from burning out.

The challenge that we all face is that we have too much to do.  Even our children have too much to do these days.  The key to getting past having too much to do is to determine what things are worthy of your time.  Before you can decide what things are worth your time, you have to know what your values are.  Look at every area of your life and think about the things that are important to you and create a list, then use that list when you are deciding what things are worth your time.  If you choose to place things on your agenda that are in line with your values, you are more likely to accomplish goals that you set around those things than you would be if they weren’t values based.  When you base what you do upon the things that you value, you are placing the focus on what’s important to you, which has to be your first priority.

A vital factor in managing workflow effectively is having an organized environment.  Whether you work in a company office or your office at home, it must be organized.  Think about the stress involved, not to mention the extra time it takes, when you simply can’t find something.  We all know that it may take a number of hours to get an environment completely organized, but it’s time well spent and it will keep you from wasting time in the future looking for that particular file or what ever it might be.  With your environment organized, you’ll be able to access what you need in a matter of seconds.

One thing that I teach my clients to honor is their own Prime Time™.  By that I mean, the time during the day in which your energy level is the greatest.  This is the time of day when you are going to be most productive and the time of day that should be used for your most important tasks.  This would not be the time of day to check your email or return phone calls.  This is the time of day that you want to use for the things that require creativity or focus.  You also want to protect this time of day so that it doesn’t become the space for tasks with lower priorities.  You want to use this time of day for your top priority tasks.  Take a look at your natural energy rhythms; what time of day does your energy seem at its peak?  If you need to, look at your patterns over a few days and see what time of day works best for you. Once you determine that, be sure to block out a couple of hours during that time to get your top priority tasks done.

In addition to your values, getting organized and honoring your natural energy rhythms be sure to set time to schedule and plan your week and your day.  At the end of one week, sit down and plan for the next and do the same thing each day.  At the end of your day take a few minutes to look at what you have set for the next day.  There may be some adjustments that you have to make to your schedule because something was canceled or perhaps there is something that needs to be added.  If a task is going to take longer than 15 minutes to complete, it should go into your calendar and not just on your to-do list.  If it doesn’t go into your calendar, you take the risk of something not getting done that day and the added stress that comes with the day being upset.

When you’re planning and scheduling your to-dos, be sure to include their priorities so that at a glance you know what items are your top priorities for each day.  Not everything has the same level of importance, so you want to be sure that you’re focusing on your crucial items before you get to those that aren’t so important.

Next, find a way to minimize interruptions.  Constant interruptions will keep you from getting anything done.  Turn off the email notification, or better yet, close your email while you’re working on other things.  For those hours during your prime time™ that you’re working on top priorities, turn off the ringer on the phone or place it on do not disturb.  If someone transfers calls to you, ask for your calls to be transferred into your voice mail and check them later in the day.  If necessary, close your office door for a while so that you can focus on what you’re doing.  Constant interruptions can destroy your concentration and cause added stress.

Finally, you have to keep your well being a priority.  During the course of your day, no matter how busy you are, you have to take breaks to stretch, take a short walk and make time to eat right.  Nothing that you have to do can be more important than your well being.  Even if you implemented each of the aforementioned in managing your workflow, things won’t flow smoothly if you don’t incorporate your well being.  It is a key factor in making it all flow.


Break; pause; disruption; intermission; interlude; disturbance; intrusion; stoppage; interval.  No matter what you call it, it’s an interruption.   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, the truth of the matter is that 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.

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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