One of the most difficult aspects of time management is controlling your day when others around you want to steal your time. Interruptions can eat up literally hours of precious, productive time each day. There are ways to discourage these interruptions without offending your co-workers, or family and friends if you work from home.
In a business environment where several people work in a restricted area, the tendency is to chitchat and gossip during the day, which is a great waste of productive time. There is a very simple solution to take control of this situation easily. You can be tactful but at the same time discourage socializing.
When someone approaches your desk or sits down in your office and begins talking about anything but the work at hand, you could say, ďIím sorry (personís name) but I am involved in (whatever you are doing) and (donít want to lose my train of thought, or, have a tight deadline, or whatever is appropriate to what you are doing). Can it wait until later? . You have easily taken control of the situation. Be persistent with this method, and it wonít be too long before the talkers and socializers get the message that you do not want to be disturbed.
Phone Calls and Emails
Where is it written that every time the phone rings you MUST answer it? Unless your primary job responsibility is to answer the phone, it is up to you to decide when you will answer it and when you will let others (staff, voice mail, message recorder) answer the phone for you. The same goes for e-mail. In most cases, it is not necessary to check every time a new message arrives. Turn off the bell or buzzer that notifies you of incoming messages. It is just as intrusive as a ringing phone. Do not interrupt what you are currently doing just to check messages. Staying focused on the task at hand will get you a lot further along with accomplishing your tasks for the day.
Decide when you will check your messages. This manner puts you in control of the phone, your e-mail, and your goals for the day. If you have an office at home, it is important for your family to understand that when you are working, in your office, you are not to be interrupted except for an emergency. Define what an emergency is so it is clear to them. I know this is hard to enforce at times, but look at it this way. If you can work uninterrupted, you will accomplish more in less time, and in the long run you will have more time to spend with your family. This is working smarter, not harder.
Closed Door Policy
If you have a door on your office, enforce the closed door policy to discourage visitors and intruders. A closed door sends the message that you do not want to be disturbed. It may not be possible to close your door all day, and quite frankly, it is not a good idea to completely discourage good communication with co-workers. But there is nothing wrong with getting in the habit of closing the door for periods of time during the day. Behaving in a proactive manner puts you squarely in control of how your day goes and how much you will accomplish.
When To Socialize
Also keep in mind, when you want to get away from your desk and take a break, seek out others who are doing the same and talk and socialize with them. Respect the time of others who are working and avoid being the person who interrupts them.
©2011 Carol Halsey
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