While I was surfing the web recently, I read that employees are interrupted about every three minutes. I also read that it takes 20 minutes to get back to the level of focus to be productive. Needless to say, being productive and accomplishing work is quite the challenge. Not only is it a challenge but constant interruptions can increase stress levels and damage health (and work relations). The employee who is being interrupted feels they cannot get any work done and faces what seems to be an unmanageable workload. Then the co-workers will be unhappy with the help, or lack of help, that they received from said employee. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to check everything of your list, especially with unplanned work.
Let others know your schedule. Rather than tell someone, “I can do it later” or “I’ll get back to you”, set up your schedule for the day. “I’m busy now doing X, but I have a few minutes around 1 pm.” Helps both parties and gives you some time to finish your current tasks and plan out your day. When someone asks what you’re up to, give them a description of what you’re up to. “I’m working on X for Joe; he asked me to do this earlier and said he needs it right away.” You’re letting co-workers know that you are working with others and are doing your best to make things work. If that doesn’t work then sometimes you just have to, politely, say no.
Check your inbox. If you don’t answer emails, colleagues will check in with you at your desk. When you receive a message, send a quick reply saying you’re busy now but will be available in X minutes. It keeps everyone informed and on the same page. Let them know how long it will take you to accomplish what they’ve asked, and when you do, give yourself extra time. Sometimes errors and obstacles arrive.
Refer to another co-worker. If you’re the only one in the office trained to use certain software or the only one who understand the ins and outs of a certain project, some co-workers will just have to wait until you can help. But if there are several of you who are trained yet you get multiple requests, maybe ask someone else to step in. Or train someone in the office to help you out. It isn’t beneficial to you or the company if you’re the only one knowledgeable about a certain topic or process.
For more tips on staying focused in the office click here.
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