You’ve finally gotten started on a project that you have been putting aside for a while and you’re entering a flow-state where your focus is optimal. Then, out of nowhere, someone barges into your workspace and interrupts your concentration. Does this sound familiar to you? According to a recent survey, 51.5 percent of people are interrupted frequently throughout the day, hampering their ability to be productive. If you’re one of those people, here’s how to get others to stop interrupting you.
The first thing you want to do is make your “unavailable” time known to your colleagues. Share your calendar with your colleagues to make it easier for them to know when you’re occupied with important tasks. Make it clear that during your “unavailable time”, they should only interrupt you if they have to.
Secondly, you must stop interrupting yourself. Browser tabs, clutter on your desk, and notifications are the biggest distractions when you want to get stuff done. When working on your important stuff, close all tabs that have no relevance to the work in progress or disconnect completely.
The third thing you should do is use the “two-minute rule.” Basically, this rule states that you should deal immediately with all interruptions that take two minutes or less. Two minutes is short enough to prevent loss of engagement when you have to get back to your task quickly. Once you deal with the interruption, you can revamp your focus once more.
Another tactic is to use a trigger. For instance, headphones are a great trigger that can help you assume “focused mode” while needing the signal to people that you are not available.
And if none of these tactics work, try creating an interrupters log. This is a simple record of your interruptions in the course of a day. Research shows that self-monitoring massively reduces the time spent on low-value work and interruptions. If you can identify the source of your interruptions, you will be able to put strategies in place to minimize them.