Identifying Interruptions at Work

Once you have established the causes of your interruptions, you are then in a position to look at the best way to reduce them. Most typical interruptions are:

Identifying Interruptions

There are a variety of simple techniques you can use to help protect your time and productivity.

For many people, incoming calls account for the majority of their interruptions. The most effective technique to deal with these is to use a Voicemail facility.

If this is not possible, then you may be able to use secretarial support or a close colleague who is willing to answer your calls whilst you are protecting your time. This strategy is something that you can reciprocate with them so that they too have protected time.

Many of these incoming calls, or texts, will be received on your cell phone. With these calls you can put your cell on silent and call divert so that any calls go directly to your Voicemail. Whether your Voicemail is on a landline or your cell, the message any caller receives should tell them what time you are able to get back to the caller.

With the emphasis today on management to be customer focused and proactive, the temptation to look at your cell phone is instinctive. To ensure you resist this temptation, make sure the vibrate option is disabled so your phone is completely silent. Also, leave it in your briefcase or a safe place close to you so that it's not a visible distraction, yet is readily accessible when you have completed your protected period of work.

Time management and incoming calls

From your analysis you may find it is not the number of calls you receive but the length of time you spend on each call. This may be as a result of the complexity of the issue being discussed in any one call, which could highlight an underlying issue that needs to be addressed - for example, revised user instructions, service enhancement, etc.

If you have been receiving lengthy calls from a variety of sources concerning the same topic, then a more effective use of your time, and potentially a quicker resolution to the issue, is to organize a meeting with the necessary parties to resolve the issue or address the topic.

It is essential that you develop your own phone technique of quickly assessing the importance and nature of the call. You will also develop your own 'closing call phrases,' which allow you to end the call without causing offense to the caller:

• Sorry but I must go to my customer meeting now …
• Thank you for raising this issue, I would like some time to think about this and get back to you …
• I would like to discuss this with my colleague and get back to you …
• I would like to discuss this with my colleague before I can comment further …

When you use a closing technique to end a call, you must ensure that you leave the caller with an expectation of when you will get back to them and that you meet this expectation. This technique will not work for very long if you fail to get back to people as promised.

Many callers may just simply be time wasters or be calling you inappropriately; if these are the type of calls your interruptions consist of, then you need to be assertive and put an end to such calls as quickly as possible. Your strategy in this case will be more direct in ending the call, informing the caller you are not the person they need to contact or making sure switchboard puts calls through to the correct person.

You may also be interested in:
Handling Interruptions | Controlling Interruptions | Limiting Inappropriate Socializing | Techniques to Minimize Interruptions | Managing Phone Interruptions | Cold Call Elimination | Managing Your Outbound Calls | How to Stop Constantly Checking Emails.

Key Points

  • Almost everyone would benefit from a strategy for dealing with incoming calls.
  • Use Voicemail or a colleague to field calls whenever possible.
  • Learn to 'close out' calls quickly when they have achieved their purpose.
  • Always get back to people when promised or they will keep calling you to check progress.
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