It is part of life that during our working day, there will always be interruptions and unanticipated events, that we have to deal with because they are linked directly to our job role. It is not these types of interruptions that are the problem. It is the unwanted, unnecessary interruptions, usually brought to us by others that keep us from focusing on what really needs to be done.
Record your interruptions
Many of the unnecessary interruptions we deal with can be eliminated. To gain better a better understanding of our interruptions, consider the use of an “Interruptions Log.” Nothing complicated, just a pad of paper headed with five columns:
- When (Date/Time)
Whenever you are interrupted, record when it occurred, who interrupted you, a word or two about what it concerned, how long it took, and then rate its importance (A=crucial, B=important, C=little value, and D=no value). You will need to record this information for about a week to get a good insight into what is really happening. (I recognise it will be a nuisance to record this information, but it does provide valuable insights!)
Analyse you interruptions
At the end of the week, total up the A’s, B’s, C’s, and D’s. Most people who carry out this exercise discover that over 50% of their interruptions are C’s and D’s, things that were not worth the time spent on them. Finally, evaluate each C and D interruption. Understanding the real reason the interruption occurred, will help you make sure is not repeated. Deal with the repetitive interruptions first.
For example, maybe you have a colleague who comes to you two or three times a day asking for information that they could have easily located themselves. Unless there is an intervention that helps this person to find the information, they will always take the easy option and come to you. Help people to help themselves, train them how to get what they need on their own, this may be a pain initially, but in the long term you will not have to spend time on what you know will be additional interruptions.
You will never be able to eliminate all C and D interruptions, but if you can head off, short circuit, and stop just a few and that buys back an extra hour per day, then you have carved out some additional time for long term projects that are being pushed back, thereby reducing some of the stress and frustration of your day to day work.
Till Next Time
The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner