Friday, October 11, 2013

Your Productivity Edge - Managing Interruptions

Managing Interruptions - An Essential Time Management  & Productivity Skill!

These days our workplaces are busier and more fluid than ever and gives new meaning to the phrase "open door." It's transformed into open cube, open work space, etc.

And yet, we gotta get work done! I think many of us function more in a "sort of open door" environment...meaning in many cases "I'm available, but really not."

There is a delicate balance to effectively managing this predicament. We don't want to impede team productivity as we try to get our own piece of the pie done.

So, an essential skill and time management tip in working productively in a group environment is to manage interruptions with tact and finesse.

Here's a few tips:

1. If there is anyplace in your work area that invites folks to sit...cover it with something personal.  People tend to not touch personal things without asking permission.  That way you can control how those sitting areas are used.  Or, you could remove it all together if need be.

2. Lead people with your body (and by the way this is one of my favorite ideas).  How?  First, when someone walks into your work area - stand up.  If sitting in your cube - face them, if in your office - walk around your desk and meet them in front of it.

Then, state a verbal boundary, "Hi, how can help I have just about 3 mins. right now." The key here is to state an exact number, rather than use the word "a few."

Next?...look at a time piece.  That communicates both on a conscious and subconscious level that you really mean you only have 3 minutes and you'll be monitoring the time.

And finally, continue to lead by closing the conversation. Make sure you have key phrases or statements you are ready to use with which you feel comfortable. The key is not to wait for them to stop talking.  YOU must close or end the time...indicating you meant what you said when you set the verbal boundary. 

To add fun to it, I've heard some managers use a sand timer from a game or a funky looking timer. When a team member walks in they voluntarily turn it over and start talking.

No matter what you use, the key is to lead the person, set boundaries, and then assertively close the conversation. 

You can do this with a decision to talk more later, starting to walk out of your work area as you are closing the conversation, or within 3 minutes you'll discover that's all the time that was really needed!

Now this fits perfectly into our 1% Challenge this month.  I just bet if you managed interruptions more strategically over the next 30 days, you will save time and improve your productivity.

Test it! & Track it!...and let me know your results!

This is tip is taken from the book and seminar Organizational Strategies for the Overwhelmed - learn more here 

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