Creative Leadership

Want to Actually Accomplish Something With Your Life?

If you’re finding your productivity dropping, or frustrated by constant interruption, this concept from the Wall Street Journal should help. In fact, it’s made a dramatic difference for me:

Avoid Work Interruptions – By SHIVANI VORA – November 7, 2006

The Problem: Too many interruptions at the office.

The Solution: Avoid email for the first hour of your day and use that time to tackle your most difficult task. After that — if the kind of job you have allows for it — check your email no more than every two to three hours. This change alone will create chunks of time for focused work.

Julie Morgenstern, a productivity consultant, says that breaking the addiction to your inbox is crucial. “Many of us feel compelled to check our email as it comes in,” she says, causing people to “self-interrupt” their flow of thought.

After email, another big interruption comes from co-workers. Instead of being in instant response mode, designate buckets of time in your day when you’re free to answer questions and deal with requests. Let your colleagues know about the open hours in a lighthearted way.

The average office worker is interrupted every three minutes and it takes 25 minutes to regain concentration after each interruption, according to a study by the University of California-Irvine. Reducing interruptions lets you reclaim work time, accomplish tasks and ease stress by instilling a sense of control.

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One Comment

  1. When I lived in Vancouver, I worked in a bullpen.  It was a small professional theatre and we couldn’t afford office doors.  

    So what I would do is announce to my coworkers that I was "closing the door to my office for the next hour" and stick my headphones in my ears.  They’d all laugh and leave me alone for at least thirty minutes.  I’d begun the ritual one day by letting them all know it wasn’t them.  It was me. 

    The other thing I did was turn off the "Send & Receive" schedule in my Entourage so that the "ding" of new emails wouldn’t distract and tease me.  That helped too!

    Great advice.  It’s worked for me!   

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