I should be an EXPERT on this topic. I have 3 small children under 6 and they are CONSTANTLY interrupting me. Short of LOCKING them out of my home office (and sound-proofing it) it’s pretty hard to stop them, so lets put the little ones aside for now.
I have also led a number of employees, had several hundred customers and tens of suppliers all of which have WANTED a slice of my time, often simultaneously.
It’s not easy to keep a line of thought when you are getting BOMBARDED with people at your office door, the phone ringing off the HOOK and email running HOT.
So WHAT can you do about it?
To STOP the flow of interruptions first you need to RECOGNISE the sources and then form a PLAN for each.
- Employees can be advised of 2 time SLOTS per day ie 10-10.15 AM and 2-2.15 PM where they CAN ask you questions.
- LET your calls go to voicemail and in your message advise that you will check it twice per day and get back to them within 2 business hours of those times.
- You can CLOSE down your email and check that too twice per day and respond at those times.
A FEW basic rules:
- You must be SPECIFIC about the times and stick to them religiously otherwise people will not TRUST the process and keep bugging you till you respond.
- There are of course exceptions to these rules i.e. if it is TRUELY urgent
- Your CHALLENGE is to stop your bad habits also, i.e. checking your email on the way to the toilet at 4am.