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Tips For Dealing With Interruptions

Interruptions can be really annoying, but they aren’t fatal. In fact, most interruptions are pretty preventable. It’s all a matter of knowing how to properly deflect an interruption, how to hone your own ability to stay focused, and the best tricks for getting back into the moment after you are interrupted.

Different Types Of Interruptions

Checkmark-Iconmany interruptions are avoidable with planning

Xmark-Iconsomeone else could help them but they don’t know who to go to

Checkmark-Iconyou could handle the situation later or schedule a meeting time

Xmark-Iconasking questions because you haven’t explained clearly enough

Checkmark-Iconother “emergency” interruptions must be dealt with at that time

Xmark-Iconthe better you plan ahead, the fewer “crises” will arise

External Interruptions

Checkmark-Iconother people interrupting you and breaking your train of thought

Xmark-Iconpeople dropping in or calling to talk

Checkmark-Iconcalls or e-mails that distract you from the task at hand

Xmark-Iconoutside noise or commotion that keeps you from focusing

Internal Interruptions

Checkmark-Icontimes when you interrupt yourself

Xmark-Iconremembering something you were supposed to do

Checkmark-Iconbeing distracted by piles of paper or disorganization

Xmark-Iconspending time on unimportant non-priority tasks

Checkmark-Iconletting your mind wander away from the focus of your work

Keeping Track Of Interruptions

Xmark-Iconkeep an interruption log

Checkmark-Iconrecord times when your concentration is broken, whatever cause

Xmark-Iconnote the time, reason, person interrupting, and how long it lasted

Checkmark-Iconyou will discover that there are patterns to your interruptions

Xmark-Iconyou must recognize the cause to prevent interruptions

Learning To Change Your Mindset

Checkmark-Iconvery few interruptions are both urgent and important

Xmark-Iconget out of the habit of dealing with items the minute they come in

Checkmark-Iconit’s more productive to schedule the item into your day later

Xmark-Iconstay focused on the task at hand until you complete it

Checkmark-Iconthe rest of the work will still be there when you finish

Proactive Pays Off In The End

Xmark-Iconset up guidelines for dealing with interruptions

Checkmark-Iconwho you are willing to interrupt work for and who will have to wait

Xmark-Iconstand up to greet people so you control the conversation

Checkmark-Icondon’t be afraid to ask how long the interruption will take

Xmark-Iconthen decide whether you have time to handle it now or later

Checkmark-Iconask if you need to be the one to handle the interruption

Xmark-Iconif someone else can help, delegate the job

Checkmark-Iconask if you need to handle the problem right at that exact moment

Xmark-Iconif not, schedule a time to take care of it later

Checkmark-Iconwhen interrupted, leave a memory jogger of where you left off work

Xmark-Iconit will be easier to get back into the groove when you return

Putting Interruptions In Their Place

Checkmark-Iconlet people know the times when you are unavailable

Xmark-Icontake precautionary measures before interruptions start

Checkmark-Iconclose your door and put up a “do not disturb” sign

Xmark-Iconturn your desk away from the door so you don’t catch people’s eyes

Checkmark-Iconsend your calls to voice mail

Xmark-Icontell people “no” when they ask if they can have a few minutes

Checkmark-Iconin return, establish “open door” hours for drop-in’s and questions

Xmark-Iconreschedule unexpected visitors for your open door hours

Checkmark-Iconinvest the time up front to thoroughly explain delegated projects

Xmark-Iconsave time in the long run by eliminating “clarification” questions

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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