Learn To Keep The Interruptions At Bay

Learn To Keep The Interruptions At Bay

You know when you get into that flow at work, where what needs to get done pours out of your like water from a tap? You’re in the zone and focused. You and the work inhabit a bubble of time and space without interruption.


When was the last time you were in that bubble? With so many internal and external interruptions coming at most of us all day long, it’s probably been a while. External interruptions are things like other people calling, texting, emailing or walking up to our desk. Internal ones include the compulsive need to check social media, or have a quick peek at the headlines, or whatever it is you fill your personal distraction glass with.


Small interruptions lead to extended production delays

When you are in the zone you are focusing all your energies and thoughts on the task at hand. When an interruption breaks the flow it’s like taking a pair of scissors and cutting all the threads of communication pouring into your head with a single snip.


The time dedicated to dealing with the interruption isn’t restricted to however long it takes to death with whatever Hans came in to ask you. The bigger problem is the break of flow. All the time it takes to gather all the threads of thought back together.


Of course, interruptions to your flow are inevitable. There will always be matters that must be dealt with immediately. However, a great majority of the things that stop our flow aren’t urgent enough to require our immediate attention. By setting boundaries with our co-workers and ourselves we can allow ourselves to get into the flow zone more often and stay there.


Let your coworkers know you don’t want to be interrupted

If people don’t know you want uninterrupted work time, there is nothing stopping them from coming in and interrupting with things that can wait. So, let them know. Set all your alerts to silent. Leave an outgoing message on your phone saying you are busy and will return calls when you are free again. Same thing for emails.


If you have an office with a door put a do not disturb sign on it, if not put a sign on your desk. The do not disturb sign (or whatever words you use) might feel weird the first time you put it up. But you’ll get over it, especially once you see how much you’re accomplishing.


Stop interrupting yourself

For many of us the worst interrupter of our flow isn’t other people, it’s ourselves.  Now that you’ve got your email alerts and your phone silenced, it’s up to you to stop yourself from compulsively checking them on your own every couple of minutes. Set yourself time boundaries. Say I will work on this project for one hour. And stick to it.


Beyond that, close open tabs on your computer. If you can work offline do it. When the internet is two or three clicks away instead of only one it’s a little easier to stay clear of.


Single task

It’s impossible to get into the flow of one thing if you are trying to do more than one thing at once. Multi-tasking is the bane of productivity. Focus on what you need to get done, one thing at a time.



Keep Distractions At Bay Twenty Seconds At A Time

Keep Distractions At Bay Twenty Seconds At A Time

Sometimes you when you have a lot of things on your plate or one very important thing, you may find that the harder you WANT to concentrate, the more impossible distractions become to resist.

Many people believe the internet is the big problem so they try switching the WI-FI off for set periods of time. That is certainly a good start, but what happens when you need to check something on the internet? Like eating chips, it’s nearly impossible to stop at just one. You get the information you went in there to find then you check one more thing on Facebook or Twitter, and then two hours of distractions have sailed by.

Even if your internet is off, if you don’t make valiant efforts to vanquish the allure of distractions you will never be as productive as you say you want to be. However there is something very simple every single one of us can try to keep those distractions at bay.

Twenty Second Rule

The 20-second rule was created by positive psychologist Shawn Achor. In the course of his research, Achor discovered something interesting about the unassuming little twenty second increment of time.

By simply adding or subtracting 20 seconds to how long it takes to do something, a person can change their entire perception of the task.

Subtract 20 seconds

For example, if it normally takes you three minutes to make your lunch in the mornings, but you found a way to do it in 2 minutes and 40 seconds you’d be more inclined to go ahead and do it on a regular basis rather than choosing the lazy I’ll just buy my lunch route.

Twenty seconds isn’t a significant amount of time, but it’s enough to change your attitude about something.

Add 20 seconds

Which brings us to distractions. This time we’re going to add twenty seconds instead of subtracting them.

Let’s say you’re in the middle of writing a proposal or a letter – or whatever it is you do during the course of your day, and you get the urge to check your email or call your best friend or check to see if that sweater you’ve been keeping an eye on has gone on sale. Instead of following through on that urge like you usually do, just tell yourself, I’ll do it in twenty seconds.

That twenty seconds is often enough time to get you back on task and focused on the work at hand.