Interruptions come in many forms – your boss checking on you, a colleague stopping by for a short chat, a phone ringing, an email notification, etc. The more you are interrupted while working, the more drained you feel and the higher your stress level becomes.
Interruptions are unpredictable and, most of the time, they are out of your control. Although you can’t altogether stop interruptions from happening, here are some steps you can take so that they are kept at the bare minimum:
Customize your email notifications. Every time you hear the ‘ding’, you just can’t stop yourself from checking your email. To minimize distractions, configure your email settings so that you only receive notifications when you get high-priority emails like that from your supervisor.
Set a schedule for interruptions. It’s smart to let your colleagues know that you are not to be disturbed during particular hours.
Before you dive into your work, ask your colleagues whether they need something from you. Tell them that you’ll be working on a project for the next few hours and that if there’s something they want from you, they’ll have to approach you before you start working or after.
Set your status to busy. If you are required by your boss to go online on Skype, but want to minimize IMs from colleagues, you can set your status to busy. Or you can just inform your boss that you’ll go invisible and that you’re online whenever he/she needs you.
Wear noise-cancelling headphones. Office activities can really be a distraction. You can’t help but get distracted with a rowdy officemate especially if you’re working in an open office space.
Wearing headphones can help drown out office chatter and, at the very least, will make colleagues think twice before interrupting you.
If your work day involves a string of interruptions and you’re starting to feel stressed because you’re not getting anything done, then it may be high time to send people the busy signal and put up that ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.