At work, there are a dozen coworkers who can(and do) interrupt me.  Though its not in my actual job description, there are a  dozen customers with my direct line.

On an average day, I get interrupted at least ten times with issues that require my full attention.  When an issue requires my full attention it throws me off my stride.  Is an issue requires ten minutes to resolve, discuss, or explain, and it takes another ten minutes to recover my “groove”, that is twenty minutes wasted out of about every fifty.  That is almost half of my day unavailable for the things that are strictly within my job description.  On a good day.

Naturally, this takes a toll on my productivity.

Avoiding Distractions

1.  Warn People. If you have been allowing interruptions and distractions, it may come as a shock to your coworkers that easy time is over.  Send an email to everyone who normally expects your attention.

2.  Turn off your email. I check my email three times per day.  Morning, noon, and night.  An auto-response explaining your plan may be helpful.

3.  Unplug the phone. I’m fortunate to have a “Do not disturb” button on my phone.  Unplug it, turn off the ringer, or drop it in the sink.  Just don’t answer it.

4.  Close your door. This isn’t always possible, but if it is, do it.  It provides a wonderful psychological barrier to anybody thinking about interrupting you.

5.  Block the internet. If you have an opportunity to work unmolested, don’t waste it on the internet.  BE PRODUCTIVE!

Now, is this a sustainable solution?  I’m not sure.  I work in a small company and have varied responsibilities, including reviewing potential contracts, demonstrations, and a bit of high-level customer care.  It doesn’t appear to be possible to sequester myself every day, but I’m making an attempt to do so on at least once every other week.

How do you keep work distractions to a minimum?

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    1. I did all of this and more when I was stuck in an 80-hour per week rut for a month on end. I finally had to break down and ask my boss to delegate the question answering to others in the office — we all had to share the work load!

    2. The Internet is the biggest distraction at work for the vast majority of employees. I wonder how much productivity is lost in the workplace due to web surfing.

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