Managing Interruptions is the Difference Between Success & Frustration

“The effectiveness of work increases according to geometric progression if there are no interruptions” - Andre Maurois

Wish I was paid $1 every time I heard someone say: “I’d get more done if only I didn’t have so many interruptions!!!”  What many workers don’t realise is that one-third of interruptions are typically reduced when proactive steps are taken to manage them. Can the level of interruptions be the difference between success and frustration?

Do interruptions really matter? Well, that depends on the importance of the interruption when compared to what you were working on. At the very least there’s a loss in productivity. Studies found we’re interrupted at work somewhere between every 6 – 11 minutes. The variance depends on which study, but whatever the number is, it’s lots!!! However, what’s more significant is it takes almost 25 minutes to get back to what we were doing once we’ve been interrupted if the original task required a reasonable degree of thought.

Therefore, it’s imperative that we manage interruptions. What’s noticeable with the workers who do is they:

  • Have greater clarity to focus on what’s important

  • Get more of their intentional work done

  • React less to urgent unimportant demands

  • Feel as if they’re achieving more

  • Are frustrated less

We often think it’s the environment or the job, that’s there’s nothing we can do to reduce interruptions. However, the surprising thing is it’s not too difficult to reduce the volume of interruptions when you know what to do.

Three approaches that will help you reduce interruptions are:

  • Disable unnecessary notifications – do you really need to know you’ve received a new email or a comment or a like from social media?

  • Assess the priority – is the interruption just urgent or is what you were working on more important?

  • Are you causing others to interrupt you – by not saying anything are you just accepting the behaviour?

Anything you can do to increase clarity will improve your performance. Reducing interruptions is a choice. You need to decide whether you want to manage them or be a victim of them.