Handle Those Interruptions

“Hey – do you have a quick sec to talk about that email I sent?” – Well meaning but forever impatient co-worker

“Oh my goodness, did I tell you what happened last week?!” – Friend/Co-worker knee deep in a new relationship.

“Mom! Can I have a snack?” – Adorable and somehow always hungry daughter.

They’re lean, they’re mean, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Interruptions are one of the biggest time thieves in your life. You may not have actually tallied how many minutes or hours have been stolen from your day by other people or situations barging into your day, but I can promise you, it’s more than you realize.

But don’t worry! I’m not in the business of leaving you hanging. Here are some tips to help you eliminate or better deal with those pesky interruptions:

Build time into your day for specifically for interruptions.

If you can’t beat them, join them, right?! Sorry to break it to you, but you will never have a single day that’s not interrupted by something unexpected. It’s a little thing called life! And it’s also what usually throws people off course.

If you’re at work and someone pops in for “just a minute,” you know that it always turns into a lot longer. Before you know it, half an hour to an hour will have passed and you can’t get that time back. (You’re cool, co-worker, but my deadline is in 30 minutes!!).

You can beat this by allocating time for these interruptions! Start by looking at your day and figuring out how much time you have to give in each instance. For example, when someone walks into your office, you can say, “I’m working on a project so I can only spare five minutes.”

At the end of five minutes, if the other person is still there, you say, “I’m sorry, but my time is up and I have to get back to this.” If you respect your time, others will, too.

Plan your day the night before.

Everything falls into place better when you have a plan for your day! It gives you a go-to launching place. Every day you should at least know your ultimate goals and priorities – before it’s 3pm and Chatty Cathy is telling you about her trip last week! It helps you to manage time if you have a map to follow – even if it’s simply a list of what you must accomplish that day. P.S. Don’t forget to try out different systems to see what work for you! Some people love electronic calendars, and others like good ol’ fashioned pen and paper. If your system is fun to you, you’re much more likely to follow it.

RELATED: [How To] Get Organized 

Plan your phone conversations.

You know what I mean, you’re right in the middle of something and you hear your office or cell phone go off. AGH! Most people don’t want to risk sounding rude, so they remain in phone conversations that are taking up a lot of their time. I see you nodding! So here are a few easy ways to end a phone conversation:

  • You can say that you’re in a time crunch and have to go or that you need to take care of something. Usually, that will cause the other person to say goodbye and end the call.
  • You can say that they caught you right in the middle of something, but you’d love to touch base [insert time that’s good for you].
  • You can let your trusty answering machine do the dirty work for you.

It’s okay to tell someone you can’t talk at the moment and will have to get back to them! The second you start being someone else’s sounding board for all of their problems, on an endless loop is when you get taken advantage of constantly.

Manage technology time (…I’m looking at you, Facebook).

When someone isn’t dropping by your office or home, they’re reaching out to you through technology like email or on social media. These can quickly take up hour after hour of your day because it’s easy to get sucked into playing a game while you’re handling something business or personal related online!

If being on social media is a must for you, let it be a scheduled interruption (see above). For example, you just write it on your planner that at lunch, you’ve scheduled ten minutes to be on social media.

Stick to that time just as if it were an appointment. If you have to, use an alarm on your smartphone or set an egg timer so that you’re made aware of the end time of this distraction.

Prioritize interruptions.

News flash: You don’t have to make someone else’s urgency your priority! *GASP* I know, it sounds harsh, but it’s not! You see this a lot in the office environment – someone didn’t get what they needed or didn’t accomplish what they needed and all of a sudden, they want to drop it in your lap. I once saw a sign that said, “Your lack of preparation does not constitute an emergency for me” – take that to heart! If it’s an interruption that is unscheduled and can wait, let it wait. There’s something to be said for good teamwork, but if this is a recurring situation, it’s time to put the brakes on bailing others out.

Interruptions are going to happen, but prior preparation and planning can make them way less of a time suck! So, what do you think? Which of these tips are you going to try this week? I’d love to hear how it went! Drop me a comment below or head over to my Facebook group (but only during your scheduled tech time!).


Angela Holanda 🙂

About The Author

Angela Holanda Matsuhiro

I'm just a girl that loves everything beauty related! While having fun with my hubby and our baby girl!