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Time out for this interruption

 

"Got a second? This will just take a minute." How many times are you busy at work when someone marches in with that statement? Isn't it curious how time expands when someone is interrupting you? At that rate of inflation, your visitor will likely be around for days. Although workplaces are social, unexpected visitors are rarely welcome. Our research indicates that interruptions rank sixth on the list of top inhibitors to productivity. You feel a loss of control when you're interrupted. But you can regain control. When someone drops in and asks for your time, answer with, "Sure, how about if I come by your office in about an hour?" This won't fend off all off everyone, but it's a good first line of defense. Then you can meet them on your terms, not theirs. You'll be more prepared too. Unfortunately, this tactic doesn't always work. So if your visitor insists that the matter is urgent, ask how long it will take. If the answer is just a few minutes, say "OK, I've got five minutes," then look at your watch and note the time. Even with a deadline, there's still a chance your visitor will ramble on with a long introduction. More wasted time. Feel free to interrupt and say, "I wonder, could you summarize the issue in just a sentence or two?" Help them to clearly communicate what they need. After all, your time is worth it.

Mark Ellwood is a productivity consultant dedicated to improving people and processes through consulting, training and facilitation. Reach him at mark@GetMoreDone.com or www.getmoredone.com.

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