We would all like a few extra hours in the day. So, instead of wanting more time, we should learn how to make the most of what we’ve got. Try using some of these practical tips to manage interruptions.
Most of us want to practice good time management, and we start out with good intentions. We forget one of the biggest wastes of time are interruptions.
Tips to Manage Interruptions
Interruptions to our routine can steal hours from a well planned day. Here are some tips to help you deal with the worst of them:
Set aside time in your day for those well-meaning interruptions that we all experience.
Unplanned interruptions happen every day. The unexpected is usually what throws people’s day off course. It can break your concentration, making it harder for you to get the flow back. Here are some of my tips to manage interruptions.
If you’re at work and someone drops by for “just a minute,” you’ll notice that it’s always longer. Before you know it, half an hour to an hour will have passed and you can’t get that time back.
You want to set aside time for these interruptions by examining your day. You can then work out how much time you can spare. When you’re at work you can say, “I’m working on a project, so I can only spare five minutes”.
At the end of five minutes you say, “I’m sorry, I have to get back to this”. If you respect your time, others will, too.
Plan your day the night before.
This is where your handy-dandy planner comes in. It gives you a single place to map out your to do lists and appointments. You know what you have to start on first and it helps you to manage your time.
Plan your phone conversations.
This is an important one for me. I hate making phone calls, even to close friends and family. But I’ve found if I plan my conversation before I make the call I stay in control of how long the call lasts. It’s especially useful when calling companies where you need to quote reference numbers and past conversations.
I’m not afraid to tell someone I’m busy and I’ll call them back when I’m done. When I’m at home I might say I’m in the middle of baking or even that I’m expecting visitors. Usually the other person will say goodbye and end the call.
Remember it’s okay to tell the call go to voicemail or your answering machine. I call screen all the time, if it’s really important the person will call back or sent a text message. You don’t need to read or reply to a text message immediately, it’s okay to finish what you’re doing before reading or replying.
Don’t let technology disrupt your time management.
When you’re not getting visitors at your office or home, you’re most likely receiving emails, text messages or messages on social media. These take up huge chunks of your day because it’s easy to get sucked into scrolling through Facebook or playing a game online.
If you have to be on social media for your work, let it be a planned interruption. For example, you just write it into your planner that you’ve scheduled ten minutes on social media at lunch.
Stick to that time just as if it were an appointment. If you have to, use an alarm on your phone so that you know when your time is up..
Divide interruptions into what should be a priority and what should wait.
Don’t make another persons needs your focus, you’ll see this when it comes to work. Someone didn’t get what they wanted or didn’t get their work done and suddenly, they want you to do it for them.
Perhaps they want you to stop everything you’re doing to help them get out of a difficult situation. There’s nothing wrong with helping out a friend or family member but if this is something that happens frequently, it’s time to address the real problem.
Interruptions are a natural part of modern life. If you put these tips to manage interruptions into practice, you’ll be able to manage your time more easily and stay on track.
What time management tips do you have for handling interruptions?