Learning ways for handling interruptions is essential when it comes to time management. It is inevitable that you are going to have to deal with interruptions throughout your day. Interruptions are one of the biggest thieves of your time in your life. Have you ever figured out how much time you have lost in the day that is due to interruptions?
Take a day and write down everything that you do during your day. You will be amazed at the amount of time that has been wasted. That is time that was not spent accomplishing what you desired to get done that day. It will become glaringly apparent that interruptions are actually a big part of the problem.
Here are some things you can do that will help you eliminate or better deal with them:
1. Build time into your day to allow for handling interruptions that we all experience.
You will hardly ever have a day that is not interrupted by something unexpected. This is usually what throws people off course. It can break your concentration and make it difficult for you to get back into your flow.
For example, if you are at work and someone pops in “just for a minute,” you will notice that it usually turns into much longer. Half an hour to an hour has passed before you know it, and you have lost that valuable time.
You want to take into consideration that some of these interruptions are inevitable. Look at your day and figure out how much time you have to give to these interruptions. When someone walks into your office, you can say, “I’m working on a project so I can only spare five minutes.”
At the end of five minutes (or however much time you have allocated for such interruptions), if the other person is still there, you say, “I’m sorry, but my time is up, and I have to get back to what I am working on.” If you respect your time, you will find that others will also.
2. Plan your day the night before.
When you plan your day the night before, this gives you a starting place. You know what you have to do first, and you are not spending time trying to figure that out. It helps you manage your time if you have a schedule to follow, even if it is merely a to-do list of what you need to accomplish.
3. Plan your phone conversations.
Phone conversations can be a huge time waster. It can help if you plan your conversations before you make the call; this enables you to stay in control of how long the conversation will last. If someone calls you and you do not have time for the discussion, you can just explain that you have to go.
Doing so might be difficult for some people because they don’t want to risk sounding rude, so instead, they will remain in the conversation that ends up taking a lot of their time. If that sounds like you, there are several easy ways you can end a phone conversation.
You can tell the other person that you are in a time crunch and have to go or need to take care of something. Usually, that will cause the person you are talking to say goodbye and end the call.
It is okay to tell someone you can’t talk and will have to get back to them at a later time. Don’t allow yourself to start being someone else’s sounding board for all of their problems. This can become an endless loop where you get taken advantage of regularly.
4. Avoid letting technology interruptions disrupt your time management.
Another way someone will often contact you is through technology like email or on social media. The time spent reading email or social media can take up more time than you may realize. It is easy to get sucked into both of these and the best way to handle it is to schedule it. Don’t allow yourself to check email or social media outside of the time that you have it scheduled.
For example, you just write it on your planner that you’ve scheduled ten minutes to be on social media at lunch.
Stick to that time, just as if it were any other appointment. If you have to, use an alarm on your smartphone or set any other type of timer to be aware of the end time of this distraction.
5. Separate the interruptions between what needs to be handled immediately and what doesn’t.
You are the one who gets to set your priorities. You do not have to make someone else’s urgency your priority. This often occurs when it comes to work-related things. Just because someone else did not get what they needed or finish what they needed to finish does not automatically mean that it has to become your priority instantly.
This often occurs because they may want you to drop everything you’re doing to help them get out of a jam. It is great to help out your co-workers, but when this happens too often, it is time for you to set clear boundaries when it comes to bailing others out.
If it is a true urgency that you must help with, you may have to accept it and get it done. But if it is not something that has to be done immediately, you can schedule it for a later time. You do not need to drop everything you are doing if it is something that can wait until later.
Conclusion for Handling Interruptions
If you are able to master the skill of handling interruptions, you are going to significantly increase your productivity. Hopefully, the above suggestions will help you become an expert at managing your time. But handling interruptions is only one thing you can do to manage your time more effectively. You can find more time management tips here. Or if you would like to find out other ways you can increase your productivity when working from home here.