How to Effectively Handle Interruptions in Your Environment?


Interruptions are an unavoidable part of your and my everyday work. The fact is that today we can not easily escape from this evil around us. But, the critical question is how can we effectively handle interruptions.

Probably, you have already felt interruptions in your everyday work or live. When they appear, we automatically think about ineffectiveness, inefficiency, delay, breaking deadlines, etc.

Yes, all of these is true, but we just can not avoid the interruptions. At least we can not escape them today when they already happened and when everything we work is based on the enormous availability of the everyday communication through various media and in different ways. Additionally, when we are included in too many projects, it involves more people.

Also, having more interruptions means that you will become a less productive person.

So, it is clear that we need to take something in order to effectively handle the possible interruptions around us.

Options for Managing Interruptions

When it comes to managing interruptions, we have several options available.

1. Leave the Interruptions as They Are

The first option is just to leave them as they happen. For example, we are working on something right now, and our phone is ringing, we answer the phone, talk with the person on the other side, and when we end the talk, we go back to the work that we have worked on before.

What if a phone call gives us some vital information on which we need to do something? In that case, will you allow the interruption to happen and resume the ongoing work again?

What if the job you get through that specific phone call is much more important in relation to the work you are doing right now?

handle interruptions

When you find yourself in this situation, you will have only two possibilities. The first is to note or write notes about what you need to do while you are talking on the phone and start work on the new task, or job.

The second is also to write the note and to postpone the new task until you complete the current task you are working on before the phone call.

2. Use Some Form of Organizing System to Deal With Interruptions

The second option for dealing with interruptions is to know how to integrate and organize those interruptions in your personal and professional life.

What does this mean? Simply you work on something at the moment, and there is an interruption. The first interruption may be the coming of your colleague who will bring you some critical project documentation and will tell you something that you need to do. In this situation, you will take a sheet of paper and note what you need to do. After that, you will put the sheet of paper in a particular place where are the documents you need to work next if you are working with physical papers. In the case of the electronic material, you will put this notes or document in a “job to be done” folder on your computer.

Furthermore, based on the priority of the work that presents an interruption to your current job, you can decide whether to continue the current task or switch to the new one. But remember that if you turn to new work, the old work will need to be placed in a special place for the next tasks that you need to complete. It can be a basket with the label “next tasks” or “work in progress.”

In this way, you manage to integrate the interruption in your workflow by organizing and reorganizing your work under the priorities of the current job and the new work that arises from the disruption.

This is a case of one interruption, but in a few minutes, you can have 5-6 interruptions. But, this does not mean that you should start panicking and feel stressfull. Just make a note of what you need to do and depending on your priority assessment, decide whether you will immediately work on a new job by postponing the current one or going back to the current one, and delay the new one.

Planning Your Interruptions

I have already mentioned that interruptions are almost sure. But the number of interruptions that you will have will depend on you and your way of dealing with interruptions. That’s why it’s good when you plan your daily activities also to plan your interruptions. Although, it usually is not easy to plan them because the uncertain conditions in which you work do not allow 100% accuracy of your plan.

However, we must be realistic that we can influence most of the interruptions not by eliminating them, but by deferring them. For example, the phone is turned off within a specified time period when you work on the most important tasks can completely eliminate interruptions over the phone. Typically, someone who is looking for you and if it is important will try to find you later for a few hours. Also, you can see who was calling you at that specific time, and after you finish your tasks, you can call them.

When it comes to email, you can also proceed with the shutting down of your email clients in a specific time period.

To defer the interruptions in your office, you can put a note on the door that will show that you can not accept anyone at this time because you have an important job. All those persons who will try to come to your office within that time will need to come later when the specified time for important tasks finish without any interruption.

Therefore, you can plan which time period you will completely disconnect from possible interruptions. Perhaps it will be an hour, two hours or 30 minutes. In any case, you will need such disconnection.

Work Without Interruptions

Because you can not wholly eliminate interruptions, as I said before, with appropriate planning, you can provide yourself several hours a day to be entirely focused on whatever important you need to do with entirely without interruptions.

You need such an organization or one such space only for yourself. What will you do in time without any interruptions? Everything you think is necessary for you. Here are some ideas:

At this time you will work on the most important tasks you have.

You will dedicate a little time to yourself by focusing on something meaningful. Something that will provide you with enough energy for the rest of the day.

You can read a book, something motivating and inspiring. However, the spiritual exhaustion that you have through your work requires such behavior.