The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day,
of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.

W. Edwards Demming

One of the most pervasive time wasters in business is all the interruptions occurring around you… some aren’t truly interruptions at all rather aspects of your job that you need to handle. Many others simply suck your time while returning very little benefit or output for all your efforts.

In fact, the average manager is interrupted every 8 minutes according to a study conducted by Priority Management. The statistic are even scarier when you look at a Basex, Inc. study which reveals the average employee spends 28% of their time dealing with unnecessary interruptions followed by the “recovery time” necessary to bring your attention back on track. In fact, it is estimated that the time spent per day being interrupted and then, trying to refocus back on your work is 2.1 hours.

Does this represent the avalanche of interruptions in your day?

If it does, try some of these techniques to limit the interruption factor as best you can:

  • Intentionally schedule time daily in your calendar for interruptions because you know they’re coming and you’ll find them less frustrating, when you control the out of control a bit.
  • Develop a “talk to” file for each person you have multiple dealings with on a regular basis. Tell them to hold their questions for the scheduled meeting unless it is an emergency and role model this behavior by holding your issues as well. You’ll soon learn who has a handle on what is an emergency and what isn’t pretty darn quick…. And you have an opportunity to mentor self-sufficiency into those around you.
  • Design an interruption log to record every disruption to your time. Often interruptions are nothing more than a process breakdown. As you recognize consistent interruption patterns, respond to it as you would any other system breakdown, because that’s what it is. Start designing problem/solution exercises in your mind and then, introduce them.

Working on some of these suggestions may sound time consuming; however, remember, once you overcome one challenging interruption category, it will be resolved long term. Revel in the gift of the hours you’ll be saving each and every day from now on!

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