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Shove aside distractions

Learn to bypass interruptions

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Workplace Communication

When someone or something breaks your concentration, you can react one of two ways: stay broken or resume your work. It depends on your discipline.

To operate at peak efficiency, wave off potential derailments like gnats. Here’s how:

Debrief briefly. When your Internet provider abruptly kicks you offline or a customer complains, it’s tempting to pause and discuss what happened. Coping with irritations by talking about them for, say, 15 minutes may make you feel better. But it’s a time-wasting habit.

Instead, plunge into action. Debrief with a colleague if necessary, but don’t use a jarring or frustrating experience as an excuse to take an extended break or work yourself into a tizzy.

Overrule interruptions. You don’t have to pick up every ringing phone or look up whenever someone enters your office. If you’re engaged in high-priority business, then anticipate and manage distractions. Examples: Forward your calls or close your door and post a note specifying when you’ll be available.

Rely on the clock. If employees burst in to report minor crises, don’t assume you must drop what you’re doing and take over. Keep the monkey on their backs. Say: “It’s 3:15 p.m. I cannot be interrupted until 5 p.m. at the earliest. You need to resolve this yourself.

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