A boss as demanding as a new baby

By johannatime On June 11, 2014 Under Productivity vs Procrastination

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When you want to get things done, interruptions are your worst enemy.  Interruptions distract you from your work, make you feel overwhelmed and they are an excellent excuse to procrastinate. Singletasking is better than multitasking I always say. And I also advise to limit distractions and to organise a calm environment to work in. Reality however, is always a little more complicated, my clients often tell me. So here’s some advice for surviving interruptions and staying productive.

Everyday reality: interruptions

You might relate to this scenario: you are working on a concentration task: studying and analysing, thinking and writing. This piece of work is your core business so you feel good about spending your time on a good quality outcome. Then someone asks for your attention. This could be your boss, but it might as well be a staff member, a coworker or a client: Important people in your work context that you cannot ignore. You look up from your work, you shift your attention to them, you try as best as you can to answer their question or solve their problem, and then?

You forgot what you were working on and check some e-mails instead. Or worse: it’s lunchtime.

Strange how knowledge work automatically comes with interruptions. It’s estimated that most professionals are coping with at least several interruptions per hour. And many tasks they’ve got on their plates should be done without interruptions.

What about the baby?

I recently had a baby. It’s great to have some time off work and be at home with her, yet my new lifestyle reminds me of something: Work!

  • Whatever task I pick up, I get interrupted
  • The interruption always seems more important than whatever I was doing
  • I am interrupted at the most inappropriate times
  • Interruptions are unplannable

Writing this post, I was interrupted countless times.

Coping with interruptions

Maybe you have people in your work environment who are as demanding as a new baby. Here’s some tips to make work a little more predictable, and to make interruptions a little less unwelcome:

  • It helps to simplify your situation by deliberately choosing who is important enough to interrupt you.
  • Accepting the possibility of an interruption makes them less disturbing.
  • Allowing a moment to wrap up your activity (e.g. finish a sentence) increases your appetite for getting back to it after the interruption.
  • Create a reminder (stick a note) about where you left your task.

How frequently do you get interrupted? Does it bother you? Or do you welcome the reality of the moment? What type of interruptions do you prioritise? Please share your experiences in the comments below:

Johanna Jansen

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