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Dealing With Interruptions

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.


  • many interruptions are avoidable with advance planning
  • someone else could help them but they don't know who to go to
  • you could handle the situation later or schedule a meeting time
  • asking questions because you haven't explained clearly enough
  • other "emergency" interruptions must be dealt with at that time
  • the better you plan ahead, the fewer "crises" will arise


  • other people interrupting you and breaking your train of thought
  • people dropping in or calling to talk
  • calls or emails that distract you from the task at hand
  • outside noise or commotion that keeps you from focusing


  • times when you interrupt yourself
  • remembering something you were supposed to do
  • being distracted by piles of paper or disorganization
  • spending time on unimportant non-priority tasks
  • letting your mind wander away from the focus of your work


  • keep an interruption log
  • record times when your concentration is broken, whatever cause
  • note the time, reason, person interrupting, and how long it lasted
  • you will discover that there are patterns to your interruptions
  • you must recognize the cause to prevent interruptions


  • very few interruptions are both urgent and important
  • get out of the habit of dealing with items the minute they come in
  • it's more productive to schedule the item into your day later
  • stay focused on the task at hand until you complete it
  • the rest of the work will still be there when you finish


  • set up guidelines for dealing with interruptions
  • who you are willing to interrupt work for and who will have to wait
  • stand up to greet people so you control the conversation
  • don't be afraid to ask how long the interruption will take
  • then decide whether you have time to handle it now or later
  • ask if you need to be the one to handle the interruption
  • if someone else can help, delegate the job
  • ask if you need to handle the problem right at that exact moment
  • if not, schedule a time to take care of it later
  • when interrupted, leave a memory jogger of where you left off work
  • it will be easier to get back into the groove when you return


  • let people know the times when you are unavailable
  • take precautionary measures before interruptions start
  • close your door and put up a "do not disturb" sign
  • turn your desk away from the door so you don't catch people's eyes
  • send your calls to voice mail
  • tell people "no" when they ask if they can have a few minutes
  • in return, establish "open door" hours for drop-in's and questions
  • reschedule unexpected visitors for your open door hours
  • invest the time up front to thoroughly explain delegated projects
  • save time in the long run by eliminating "clarification" questions


Copyright Ramona Creel, all rights reserved-- you are welcome to reprint any article, but you MUST include this resource box.

Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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