How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

You are trying to get things done, when you get interrupted… again.

It seems like the 57th time today, that you have been interrupted while trying to get your work completed.

Do you have trouble getting your work done due to repeated interruptions? If so, read on for tips on how to avoid and minimize these distractions.

Avoiding Interruptions in the Workplace

You may think that most of your interruptions in the workplace are beyond your control.

After all, how can you control that one annoying co-worker always stopping by to gossip? Or the loud person in the next cubicle that hums all day long?

“Many of the interruptions at work can be prevented or avoided altogether.”

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The unexpected fire drill may be beyond your control. However, many other interruptions are self-inflicted or preventable.

Here are 7 Ways to Avoid Interruptions at Work:

  1. Turn Off the Notifications – Can you get through a simple conversation or task without your phone or email chiming or ringing? Remember that your phone is there for your convenience, so turn off the notifications when you need to get work done. (It’s amazing that many people still don’t know that the rocker switch on the top left of their phone will silence it, or that they can turn on “Do Not Disturb” mode.)
  2. Close your Email Inbox – If you want to avoid interruptions and distractions, then stay away from your email. It can be the single biggest time waster in the workplace. Chances are, email is not your job. So, close your email application and work on your tasks, instead of endlessly fighting your inbox.
  3. Say No When Necessary – You can (and must) say No when appropriate to interruptions. If you let every “drive by” interrupt your day, you will never get your work done. You can say, “No, I can’t give you a minute right now, I have to finish this task. Let’s catch up later.”
  4. Turn On the Music – You may not be able to turn off the background noise in your workplace, but you can tune it out. Put your headphones on, and create your own environment in which you can concentrate.
  5. Avoid the Gossip – Gossiping can waste hours of your day. And how many times are you going to tell the same story over and over? Avoid the meaningless break room and hallway chatter.
  6. Physically Isolate Yourself – If you feel that you can’t get work done at your desk, then by all means find another location. Work remotely if possible or find a conference room. Isolate yourself when you really need to get work done. If you have an office, you canclose the door, and then reopen it later.
  7. Block Your Calendar – Making appointments with your important tasks is a great way to prevent interruptions. It’s one thing to try and “get to” a task when others are asking for your time, but when you have a meeting with an important project, it’s a different situation.

Say No to Interruptions

You don’t have to let interruptions rule your workday.

With a little discipline and some proactive tactics, you can avoid many workplace disruptions.

In some cases, you may have to go out-of-your way to prevent them, but you’ll get more work done if you do.

Question: How do you avoid interruptions in your workplace? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Some of us get pushed off balance by the slightest interruptions at work, while others easily tune out distractions. The truth is, nobody is completely attentive to their work 100% of the time–and we can all use some guidance on ways to avoid or ignore disruptions in the office.

We turned to career experts Phyllis Mufson, Andy Teach, and Meredith Haberfeld to find out what to do.

“At work just as in life, distractions are par for the course. The key point is how well you manage them,” says Haberfeld, an executive coach, and co-founder of the Institute for Coaching.

Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, and host of the YouTube channel FromGradToCorp, agrees: “All workers have trouble with distractions in the workplace to some degree. The key is to limit those distractions as much as possible.” However, Teach believes occasional workplace distractions can actually be a good thing. “We’d all get burnt out pretty quickly if we didn’t get distracted from time to time and take our minds off of work. The danger, however, is when distractions take up too much of our time and prevent us from getting our work done.”

If those interruptions in the office are not managed, they can seriously erode your ability to focus and may lead to factual mistakes and poor judgment; which can lead to poor performance, says Phyllis Mufson, a Sarasota-based career coach.

Frequent distractions can also negatively affect your mood, Teach says. Why? They can prevent you from getting your work done on time, which creates more stress for you and consequently makes you more frustrated and unhappy at work.

Mufson adds: “Happiness largely comes from feeling that you are doing a good job at work that has meaning to you, and seeing positive results from your efforts. It takes skill and focus to produce high-quality work at the top of your game. Distractions can decrease focus, which increases stress, which can intensify any poor work habit you may have. Distractions can acerbate all of the issues that lead to poor performance, creating a negative spiral where poor performance leads to more stress which leads to more poor performance, and so on.”

Distractions range from external annoyances like loud phone talkers in open cube space to self-distractions such as Facebook, personal email, or surfing the Web, Haberfeld says. “Moreover, work-style habits can cause real distraction and are often masked as ‘unavoidable work issues,’ like spending your day checking and answering email or prioritizing your day based on whatever comes across your desk, keeping you from getting much of your other work done.”

Though the frequency and nature of distractions depends on your line of work, office setup, workplace culture, and the size of your company, among other things, there are a number of common workplace disruptions that many of us endure. Those include: unceasing e-mail (personal and work), text messages, social media and other websites not related to work, personal calls, co-worker or client interruptions, last minute requests, unscheduled meetings, audible distractions (i.e. music, television, e-mail alerts, IM’s, phones ringing, other people’s phone conversations, noisy copy machines or printers, people or vehicles going by outside your window, elevator doors or restroom doors opening and closing, etc.), gossiping co-workers, and micromanaging supervisors.

If you regularly lose focus at work because of one or more of these distractions, there are a few things you can do:

Manage your time and space.

“Reserve regular blocks of time for work that requires concentration,” Mufson says. “Try using the first hour at work to make headway in your most difficult project. Ask your co-workers for quiet time, and if that is not possible, take your work into a conference room or other quiet space,” she suggests.

Limit technology interruptions.

Spending a few minutes each day checking personal e-mail, handling an online bank transfer or texting is not a problem, but doing any of these in excess will distract you from your work, Haberfeld says. “Turn off email and text alerts and, if your role allows, only check your messages two to three times a day. Reserve your personal calls and errands for the lunch hour,” Mufson adds.

Organize your workspace to minimize visual distractions.

Have a tray for incoming work and keep only the project you are working on now in front of you, Mufson suggests. If your workspace tends to the chaotic it may be a sign that you are a visual organizer and the common organizing tips won’t work for you.

Learn self-management skills.

This will help you increase your focus and reduce stress, Mufson says. “Peoples’ work styles are different. Some of us are naturally more distractible, or more social, or more physically restless. Rather than beating yourself up for your lack of focus, experiment to learn what works for you.”

Make a plan to minimize distractions.

Haberfeld says to pick your top two distractions and give two weeks attention to keeping them high on your radar and resolving them. “Create a strategy and keep honing it as you see what works and what doesn’t.”

Make others aware of your plan.

If you are prone to self-distraction, ask a friend at work to have a designated check-in time each week to go over your progress,” Haberfeld says. Letting others know about your strategy to minimize distractions will help you stay focused.

Take action.

If your day is riddled with people walking over to meet with you at their convenience, Haberfeld says, get the friendly word out that you’re setting up designated office hours for walk-ins.

Take care of your health.

Get enough sleep! Lack of sleep makes you tired, irritable, and erodes your ability to focus, Mufson says. Drink water and stay hydrated. Being even a little dehydrated will make you feel tired and sluggish—and possibly more susceptible to distractions.

Make time to reflect.

Take time at the end of the day to reflect on your day and what you want to focus on tomorrow. Write your priorities for the next day and review your list when you come in.

Managing interruptions well is an essential skill to learn if you want to make better use of your time at work.

The reality is that it’s almost impossible to avoid being disturbed during the day, but dealing with interruptions effectively saves you huge amounts of time that would otherwise be wasted.

It’s worth pointing out that distraction and disruption are two separate issues.

You choose to get distracted. No matter how interesting the diversion, it’s always your choice. For example, emails can send you off on a tangent.

You don’t choose to be disrupted. Someone, interrupts you – the phone rings, or a colleague walks into your office asking you something.

Going back to email — they may distract you, but they should never need to interrupt you if you learn how to manage them effectively.

Expect to be interrupted. It’s bound to happen. For now, make dealing with interruptions a priority so you waste less time and do more good at work.

Whatever you do, ask yourself if it really is the best use of your time. Make it a habit to think about the impact what you’re doing now has on what you get done later. This will help you re-focus on your priorities.

Interruptions are random factors in your day. They will control you unless you control them. It’s your choice.

Interruptions caused by people

‘The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.’

– ZW. Edwards Deming

‘Do you have a minute?’ means ‘Say yes, and you’ll pay for it’.

They may mean well; you may even welcome a break, but you can be sure it will stop your work. Keeping a time management log will open your eyes to the cost of pop-ins, chats and queries.

Not only do you have to count the cost of the interruption; you have to factor in the time it takes to get back to what you were doing beforehand.

4 ‘D’s for managing interruptions

Some work needs 100% focus. When are you least likely to be disturbed? That’s the time to do it.

For example, creating this website – being a dad to three children means I have to pick and choose when I can work, because creating pages (in fact, creating anything) takes thought and focus.

Decide when your quiet times are, then do your real work at those times.

Bottom line? Interruptions won’t affect you so much.

Feel brave? Just say No.

Soften it with an offer to meet up later, then agree a time and stick to it; remember, people judge punctuality.

You can pre-empt a lot of interruptions without even speaking.

People notice body language (although you can bet you work with the one person who doesn’t).

Think about eye contact, posture and position before someone thinks about interrupting you.

Think you don’t know how to do this? You did it at school when the teacher asked the class a question and you didn’t want to be picked to answer.

If their ‘sales pitch’ is good enough, you may choose to listen. If they talk too long, stand up, move nearer the exit or practice pay back – you interrupt them.

How? Find an errand to do and explain that you ‘just want to get it done’. Simple, honest and effective.

Another option is to break rapport. Reduce eye contact, stand rather than sit, flick bits of paper at them … whatever works. (Okay, maybe not the last one).

Then the phone rings.

What is it about a ringing phone that compels us to answer it?

It’s an invitation to stall on whatever you’re doing.

Me? I make a point of ignoring it. I make my voicemail earn its keep, and I recommend you do that too. If you don’t use it, you’re more likely to become caught up in conversation. The disruption becomes a distraction.

If you do decide to pick up, and they want to talk for a while, follow the Defer principle above.

Another option, for when you really want to be left in peace, is to turn your phone off. Just remember to turn it on again later.

Managing interruptions well means you get more real work done.

But there’s a down side.

All work and no play is no fun

Sometimes, deep down, we want to be interrupted. Your work may be important; you may even be skilled at managing interruptions to it; but it can’t all excite you.

Best response? Apply the suggestions given above for ‘Decide’. Do your real work when you know you won’t be disturbed.

Oh, and don’t forget to go out and buy a decent ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.

This year has been a killer in terms of weird weather that has devastated region after region in unexpected ways. While weather catastrophes are common in some parts of the country, other areas simply don’t expect such things as major snowfalls, floods in typically dry regions and hurricanes or tornados occurring in quick succession to the one/s before.

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

The winter of 2016 – 2017 has so far seen odd weather patterns from east to west and north to south, causing disasters which no one could have foreseen. If you live in an area of the country that has been devastated this winter, these survival tips may help if you are experiencing lengthy interruptions in power or utilities.

The Disruption of Waste Removal

One of the biggest problems during any kind of climatological disaster such as a flood, hurricane or tornado would be an interruption in sewage disposal. Sewers are often totally washed away or sink holes clog major pipes and so the city or county needs to shut down services while major repairs are completed. If you should experience a lengthy interruption in waste disposal / sewers, you might want to consider going in on a restroom trailer with others in your neighborhood.

These can often be rented but if you live in a part of the country, such as the southeast, where hurricanes and tornados are known to tear cities apart, flood them and disrupt services for weeks on end, it might be a good investment for a community association to keep for those eventualities.

Large Quantities of Potable Water

There are times when it actually takes months to repair damage to reservoirs and other holding facilities of a community’s drinking water. Bottled water can only go so far and so it is recommended that a few neighborhoods perhaps join forces to plan for large water holding tanks that can be replenished daily with potable water for that community’s use.

While this probably wouldn’t work in an inner-city setting, suburban neighborhoods would do well to purchase large amounts of water out of association dues so that families could be assured of having drinking water until repairs are made. Large trucks bring thousands of gallons at a time and while the water couldn’t be pumped through pipes which have been damaged and are compromised, residents can get potable water at a central location as needed.

Sanitation Is a Huge Issue

When you think of it, the biggest issues in any natural disaster usually stem from issues with sanitation. Without running water and adequate waste removal, bacteria growth is off the charts and it is difficult to keep illness under control. Widespread epidemics of infectious diseases are usually limited to poor sanitation and not to dead bodies that everyone fears. The only real fear of such an issue was from the floods following Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, and even that took a backseat to the unsanitary living conditions evacuees were forced to live in.

Therefore, if you are struck by a natural disaster, the two things to take precedence above all else in terms of interruption of utilities would be providing clean restroom facilities and safe drinking water along with hand sanitizers and washing sinks which can be found in restroom trailers. Sanitation is key, so make that a priority.

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

I have a hard time focusing on anything, anywhere. I find it especially challenging to avoid distractions at work. Our office is a wide open space where I can see – and hear – everyone around me, which makes me lose focus on a regular basis.

Some people (like myself) get pushed off balance by the smallest of interruptions. Other people find it easier to concentrate. Even if you’re the most focused person in the world, nobody pays 100 percent attention to their work all the time.

Sometimes, focusing on the work right in front of you can be a challenge – even more so if it’s something you hope you didn’t need to do.

I decided to write this article with a few tips on how to avoid distractions at work I’ve tested (and approved). If they’ve helped me and my hyperactive mind, they’ll certainly help you improve clarity and avoid disruptions.

Seven ways to avoid distractions at work

Plan Your Day

Some people are the most focused early in the morning. Others (as myself) reach their productivity peak in the afternoon or even very late at night.

Every day, before you leave work, plan what you’ll do the next day. It may seem silly but these 10 minutes you’ll spend adding the items to your to-do list can go a long way towards helping you concentrate.

Make sure you prioritize everything and schedule the most important tasks (the ones that demand that you’re entirely focused on) for your “most productive” hours of the day. To do so, start using the HubSpot’s daily schedule template to ensure you will spend every hour productively!

Keep Things Simple

Every once in a while everyone has one (or more) huge tasks they procrastinate.

People normally do that when they believe they won’t be able to do everything they need without getting distracted. Impossibly huge tasks make it even harder to avoid distractions at work. Breaking them down into smaller, easier to complete parts can help you with that.

Not only will that make it easier for you to track how you’re spending your time but also help you keep motivated every time you finish one of those small tasks (moving a card to the “done” phase of my task management pipe makes me very happy 😀).

One Thing at a Time

Some people claim they can easily multitask. They jump from one task to another, constantly interrupting their mental information flow.

They’re normally sure that’s how they’re making the most out of their capabilities and avoid distractions. It most certainly isn’t.

After breaking down your huge process into smaller doable pieces, choose one and dedicate entirely to it. After you complete it, you can move on to the next, then the next…

One of the principles of the lean work methodology is limiting work in progress. It literally states you should always focus on doing one thing at a time.

Some situations are unpredictable and you may need to stop what you’re doing to pay attention to something that’s urgent.

If you’re using Pipefy, make sure you always move the previous task to “on hold” before you put something else on your “doing” column. That way you’ll know you must get back to the previous task after you’re done with the urgent one.

Block Out Distractions

Having 27 open tabs on your navigator or checking your social media accounts at a regular pace can make it really difficult to avoid distractions and concentrate.

You can try to block distractions out by silencing all notifications, turning off your phone (or just putting it on “do not disturb” mode) and use the app you’re working with on full screen mode. Background noise, such as people talking or the “white noise” from the TV can also be your concentration’s worst enemies.

Eliminate those distractions with one of those “noise canceling” headphones if you prefer to work in silence or just listen to a playlist that helps you focus, such as this one.

Let Others Know You Need to Focus

As I’ve mentioned before, our office is a wide open space. People are constantly walking around, stopping at their colleague’s table to share something or even to ask you to do something.

The two largest teams here at Pipefy are the software development and sales. The sales team is always making calls and talking to customers which can get pretty distracting to the other teams.

On the other hand, the programmers need to dedicate their entire concentration to the code in front of them and avoid distractions at all cost.

That’s why most of them work with their headphones on (a clear sign that they’re on “do not disturb” mode). We actually have a rule not to interrupt them unless it’s really necessary.

Educate your colleagues to send you requests on your email or, if you use Pipefy to control your tasks, send them a link to your task management pipe’s public form so they can ask you to do things without interrupting what you’re doing.

Take Breaks as Needed

There’s only so much our brain can take before it starts failing you and making it even harder to focus. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you don’t have to work non-stop to be productive.

Whenever things start to look blurry and you’re finding it especially harder to concentrate, get up from your table, go take a walk, grab a cup of coffee. You’ll surely find that when you get back to work it’ll be a lot easier to avoid distractions.

Track Your Time

When we talk about distractions we’re not talking just about facebook or cute cat (or fainting goats) videos. Some times, work can be distracting you from work.

Ok, that did sound confusing. Some tasks are more important than others (that’s why you must know how to prioritize them). Spending too much time on less important tasks whether than focusing on the critical ones can be seen as a distraction.

If you get to the end the day feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything, try treating those less important tasks as distractions. After all, that is what they actually are, since they’re distancing you from the work you should actually be doing.

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

Pixabay/Pexels

Interruptions at work are a real problem — and a big part of the reason why people who work from home are generally more productive than office workers.

But, just how bad is the situation? And, what can workers do to limit distractions and better maximize their time at work?

Interruptions Abound

Workers, on average, spend just 11 minutes focusing on a project before being interrupted, according to research from UC Irvine, reported by Training magazine. The same study found that it takes workers about 25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Workers spend just 11 minutes focusing on a project before being interrupted, according to research. ” quote=”Workers spend just 11 minutes focusing on a project before being interrupted, according to research.”]

This research confirms what many already knew from personal experience. A momentary interruption is disturbing beyond the actual interruption itself. Interruptions impact productivity even more than is immediately obvious because of the time it takes to get back on track.

Some employees are interrupted more than others. People who work in cubes, for example, are interrupted 29 percent more than people who work in private offices, according to the same study.

Interruptions Are the Enemy of Productivity

Interruptions don’t just cost workers time and productivity. They also create stress. Quick interruptions don’t make as much of an impact as longer ones. But, when workers are asked to shift gears from one thing to another, also known as task-switching, stress levels increase.

“We did a laboratory experiment where people did a typical office task: they had to answer a set of e-mail. In one condition, they were not interrupted,” Gloria Mark of the University of California Irvine told Fast Company. “In another condition, we interrupted them with phone calls and IM. We used a NASA workload scale, which measures various dimensions of stress, and we found that people scored significantly higher when interrupted. They had higher levels of stress, frustration, mental effort, feeling of time pressure and mental workload. So that’s the cost.”

Interruptions at work can compound workers’ stress, and they also hinder flow state. People are at their most productive, and their most creative and innovative, when they’re in flow. (Which is a lot like “being in the zone.”)

If workers want to maximize their time, they’d be wise to try to spend as much of it working in flow state as possible. But, this heightened state of productivity emerges only when workers avoid distractions and interruptions. That’s not easy in many modern offices.

What Workers Can Do:

Although interruptions are, to some extent, a non-negotiable part of office life, there are some things that workers can do to minimize the negative effects of distractions.

  • Grab a conference room. Set aside time to work on the most consuming tasks and find a quiet space in the office in which to tackle them. You don’t have to be in flow state for long to reap the rewards. Even just an hour or two a day could make a tremendous difference.
  • Work from home every so often. Unsurprisingly, it’s easier to get stuff done when your coworkers aren’t interrupting you all day long. A day or two of telecommuting a week could yield impressive results.
  • Manage self-interruptions. Not all interruptions are caused by others. People interrupt themselves, too. Set notifications on your email and phone during times when you don’t want to be interrupted, and stay off social media during work time.
  • Think twice before interrupting others. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to set a good example.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you deal with interruptions at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

75% of the time in any work environment there are never-ending distractions, interruptions, and telephone calls. Your job at work is to create chunks of time by using good time management and getting things done by motivating yourself in the office. Doing hard work at the office will help lead you to better productivity, and greater success in any job.

Time Management and Hard Work, Without Interruptions

The very fact that you know that you will not be interrupted enables you to concentrate better and produce more. If you are working at home, you should keep your phone off so that no calls can get through to you. Hard work without interruption for long periods is an extraordinarily powerful way to increase your output and get much better results at work.

Starting Earlier, Working Harder, Staying Later and Getting Things Done

There are 4 very simple techniques for getting things done that you can use to double your productivity, improve your time management skills and accelerate your results.

1. Early to Bed, Early to Rise

When you get up and get going early, you can get the equivalent of an entire day’s work done before the normal working day even begins. If you work from 5:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M. and then go to the office, you will soon be great at time management and on top of all your major tasks. Getting things done at work will be a bonus to you because you have already accomplished so much during your day.

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2. Go into the office one hour earlier, before the workday begins

By leaving home early and getting into the office early, you will avoid most of the traffic. Since there is no one there to interrupt you, you can get started immediately. Often you will find yourself able to clear up an entire day’s work in that one hour.

3. Develop the habit of doing hard work straight through the typical lunch hour when almost everyone else has left the office

Company policy permitting, there is no law that says that you have to go for lunch when everyone else goes. There is no law that says that you have to eat lunch from twelve to one each day. You can take your lunch hour before noon or after one o’clock. In both cases, there will be no lunch-hour crowds or delays. You can eat quickly and be back at work with very little downtime. You can get in and out faster and you will get better service. You will be more productive .

4. Getting things done by working one extra hour after everyone goes home

This is one of the best ways for busy people to stay on top of their jobs. During that uninterrupted hour (which, as you know, is worth 3 hours during the day), you can clear up all your responsibilities, write your reports, dictate your correspondence, and plan the next day in detail. The key is to take those 60 to 90-minute chunks of time to do hard work without interruption. Close the door, turn off your cell phone, put your head down, and work without stopping for that one hour.

These are 4 very simple ways to increase your productivity just by working a little harder during the day. If you don’t believe me, try them for yourself. If you decrease your distractions at work and commit to working harder, you will accomplish so much more and get ahead at your job much faster. To learn more about how to increase your productivity at work and discipline yourself to get more done, download the first chapter of my book “No Excuses” HERE for FREE.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article on time management, hard work, getting things done faster and doubling your productivity at work. If you liked reading, please comment and share this post with your friends.

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian’s goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

Identifying them will help you work on a plan to lessen their impact on your productivity and efficiency. Although they can be different in every type of work and personality, the common things are listed below.

In the following article we compiled 11 strategies for you on how to eliminate time stealers at work…

1. Interruptions

Interruptions can come from internal or external sources. The most common interrupters are phone calls, emails, paper clutter, and visitors. These interrupters, as well as the ways on how to deal with them, are discussed in the book Daily Planning: Strategies for Ultimate Success.

2. Poor personal organisation

If you have a messy and overloaded workplace, you better work on it NOW and organise it. The more organised you are, the more effective and efficient you will be. You will be able to handle all incoming and outgoing items appropriately.

3. Poor planning

Think of your own short, medium and long term planning strategies. You can accomplish this step better using SMARTERS. This acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable or Attainable
  • Realistic or Relevant
  • Timely
  • Evaluate, Ethical or Extending
  • Re-evaluate or Rewarding
  • Strategic – this could be personally strategic or organisationally

4. Lack of focus and/or motivation

Focus and finish one task before doing another. Having multiple short tasks decreases your focus, therefore decreasing your efficiency as well.

5. Doing work that isn’t yours

It is okay to say NO. There is nothing wrong with it especially when you have lots of more important things to do. You can use the UNER method to maintain workplace relationships even if you’re unable to help others. UNER stands for:

  • Understand (appreciate the position the person asking is in)
  • No (say “No” in an assertive, not aggressive or submissive manner)
  • Explain (explain the reason why you can’t help)
  • Recommend (Offer an alternative, perhaps other people that might be of help)

6. Procrastinating

Putting something off or delaying something intentionally will create no good for you and for the company you are working for. It can even affect the tasks you need to do for the whole day!

7. Meetings

These are notorious time stealers, especially when unplanned. Attending meetings with late-comers is also a problem.

8. Absence of others

Absences can be planned (vacation, leaves and holidays) or unplanned (emergency and sickness). These can both affect the business. Therefore, it is extremely beneficial for a company to develop a policy regarding absences.

9. Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be a form of procrastination. Spending too long on the simplest things is not a wise act.

10. Not knowing what to do

Sharing skills and experiences with colleagues and helping each other can save lots of time when working! Remember, two heads are better than one.

11. Having unclear objectives

Having objectives and goal will make you be directed with what you are doing. The absence of this factor when working will lead you to unfinished or overly finished tasks.

Time stealers are no good if your goal is to build success every day. Learn to deal with our eBook Daily Planning Strategies for Ultimate Success here.

You can take a last look at the “Pirates Table” below.
(Click on it for a bigger picture)

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

List of time stealers.

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

Daily Planning Strategies for Ultimate Success

Time stealers are no good if your goal is to build success every day. Learn to deal with our eBook Daily Planning Strategies for Ultimate Success.

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This article was co-authored by Alyssa Chang. Alyssa Chang is a nutrition coach and trainer, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She uses her extensive background in brain-based neuroscience to work with clients on improving their connections with their brain and body to heal, reach goals, and move pain-free. She holds a BS in Kinesiology and Exercise, Nutrition and Wellness from the California State University, East Bay and is certified in Precision Nutrition, Z-health Performance and is certified by the National Council for Strength and Fitness.

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In today’s fast paced, technology-reliant world, it can be tougher than ever to focus on taking care of business without getting distracted. Many of the thoughts, behaviors and devices that play an important role in daily life can become hindrances when trying to focus. In order to stay on task and get things done, it’s essential to create an environment for yourself in which you can work without having your attention pulled in different directions. This includes measures like turning off your phones and other electronics, scheduling specific times to work and meeting a quota of work and other tasks that you set for yourself.

How to avoid lengthy interruptions at work

Your ability to stay focused is more than just a worthwhile thing to cultivate–it’s a critical factor in your success or failure. Getting things done is imperative, and focus is the key to getting things done.

Here are 10 tips to help you stay focused at work by managing distraction, drawing healthy boundaries, and eliminating opportunities for procrastination:

1. Check up on yourself.

Distractions can be internal as well as external, so start by looking within. If you’re all over the place, ask yourself what’s really going on. What’s the source of your flightiness or anxiety? What do you need to be working on in your life?

2. Pinpoint the cause.

Once you have your internal priorities sorted out, look at more external causes. Is it your office setup? An intrusive co-worker? A lack of skill, ideas, or time for something you need to be doing? Burnout? When you can identify the cause, you can fix the effect.

3. Be prepared.

All successful leaders are great planners; they make lists for every major and minor objective. When a task comes your way, spend some time thinking about how you will accomplish it. Write down every step necessary from start to finish, with a timeline (even if it’s a rough one). There is a saying that every 10 minutes you spend on planning saves an hour in execution.

4. Go offline.

Some of the biggest sources of distraction come from email, social media, and cell phones. If you want real focus, take yourself offline until you’ve accomplished what you need to do.

5. Give yourself a break.

One of the keys to doing great work is to know when to take a break. When you start to feel distracted, take a break, and then reassess and refocus yourself. It doesn’t just act as a reward–a short break can help your mind become clearer.

6. Tune it out.

One of the best ways to tune everything out is to tune in to music. When everything around you is distracting, put on your headphones–find something that can serve as background music rather than music that holds your full attention. Music can help you concentrate, and the headphones signal others that you’re not available to chat.

7. Break it down.

Especially when distractions are high, make tasks smaller and break down your large projects into smaller tasks to help you concentrate and give you a sense of accomplishment and progress.

8. Clean it up.

What’s the state of your office or workspace? If it’s dirty, disorganized, or cluttered, invest some time in clearing it out so you can focus.

9. Set a deadline.

If you’re working on a complex task, it takes an average of 90 minutes to accomplish anything worthwhile–and about 30 minutes just to get your mind on the task. Once you are in the flow, set a concentrated period of time–and when the time runs out, stop. It’s easier to stay focused when you have an end in sight.

10. Become an early bird.

This is a simple thing, but the rewards are great if you can pull it off: Start your workday an hour before everyone else. Use that hour to organize your day and to get started before there are any distractions. Similarly, skip the long office lunches most days and instead give yourself a short break to take a walk or clear your head, with something light and nutritious to keep your blood sugar steady. You’re literally giving yourself time and energy.

The distractions that surround us aren’t going anywhere, so learning to overcome them is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Give some of these ideas a try, and let me know if you’re feeling more effective and less distracted.