Stop Bothering Me! How To Avoid Interruptions At Work

The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work. -W. EDWARDS DEMING

In this sense, technology has only made things worse because location and access are no longer a barrier. Not at the office? It’s ok, you can dial into this conference call. Working from home? No problem, just WebEx into this meeting. The office follows us around in that little device in your pocket. There’s no escape.

The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off. -PETER BREGMAN

Bregman has the right idea, although it’s certainly harder than it sounds. Here are a few things you can try.

1. Do Not Disturb

Make it clear when you don’t want to be disturbed. Create your own personal office hours where you want to interact with others and any other time is off limits. Another approach is to wear headphones when you don’t wish to be disturbed, which is pretty common in more open office plans.

2. Work Off Hours

Working off hours can be a great way to have some alone time and really be productive. The typical 9–5 work day is full of distractions, but coming in two hours earlier (7–3) or staying two hours later (10–7) can give you a window of time to focus on things that need to get done. If it’s possible at your workplace, take advantage of it. Of course, to truly be alone, try working anytime between 11 PM and 5 AM.

3. Be Mindful of Others Time

This is a two way deal, just as you get frustrated by interruptions in your work day, so do others. We all have to be mindful of when we’re about to do to others, what we hate others doing to us. So next time you’re about to go over to your co-workers desk and talk about the game last night, think again. Try and wait till you see them in the break room or at lunch instead.

4. Turn Off Technology (When You Can)

Turn off the technology when you can. If you don’t need your laptop put it away. If you do, turn off the internet and put your phone on silent. If internet is essential, use tools that block your favorite time wasting sites (some good extensions for this are Stay Focused for Chrome and Leech Block for Firefox). There are ways to limit the distractions if you really want to.

5. Start a Conversation

Have a frank discussion with your co-workers and manager when it comes to meetings, both in terms of need and format. Paul Graham wrote a great essay about the challenge between the maker and manager schedule. In it, Graham makes it all the more clear that better communication could go a long way in alleviating some of the unnecessary pain that comes from meetings in particular.



Writer that designs — or is it the other way around? VP of eCommerce at function of beauty, creator of t-shirts, and lover of books.

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Aly Juma

Aly Juma

Writer that designs — or is it the other way around? VP of eCommerce at function of beauty, creator of t-shirts, and lover of books.