This might come as a shock to you, but most of the interruptions you experience in the course of the day are self-induced. How so? Either you invited them and actually encouraged them to happen, or you failed to safeguard your spaces and places so that interruptions became likely.
Invited it to happen?
Anytime you proceed throughout the course of the work day, after work, and on weekends, with your cell phone nearby and the ringer ‘on,’ you are inviting an interruption. It might be one that you desire, such as to know who’s calling you. Still, you are the one who is in control of that immediate environment.
With perhaps 9 out of 10 calls that you receive, it’s not important to field them in real time. If you casually look at your phone, see who has called, and return when you choose to, chances are everything will be fine. The exception occurs when you’re waiting for a specific call and that’s a different case altogether. At such times, by all means, turn up the volume on your ringer.
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For most of the rest of the calls you receive throughout the day or week, you don’t need to have your ringer on. ‘Vibrate’ works for some people, but even that can be disruptive. I suggest you put your phone on ‘mute’ so that no sound is made. If you can’t do this during the workday, at least do it after hours, on weekends, or when your time is completely your own. You’ll appreciate the quiet and the uninterrupted stretches of time that you now have to get things done, or to simply relax.
Failing to safeguard your places and spaces
The second variety of interruptions are those that you’ve helped to have happened. This occurs when you do not take precautions when at work, or at home. The classic way to safeguard your space at work is to simply close your office door. If you work at a cubicle, post a sign that says under deadline or can’t be disturbed.
At home or when out and about, safeguard your space by muting your phone, as discussed above. Also, turn away from the main traffic arteries. If you are on a path that everyone takes, then obviously, the interruptions that you incur will be greater than if you were along some less traveled path.
At work, many places offer quiet, uninterrupted stretches – an empty conference room, a rooftop terrace, or a table in the back of the corporate cafeteria, far from all the other tables. When the weather permits, a park bench could work to your advantage. Even sitting in your car, depending on your task, could work well. In other words, you often have options to keep noise and intrusions from invading your space.
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The fast-forward future
As the world turns, particularly during the work day, the volume of interruptions you’re likely to encounter will increase. Knowing that this is likely part of your future, what steps will you take today to minimize the noise to which you are subjected, to safeguard your spaces, and to work where others are not likely to intrude upon you?
The quality of your life and career is defined, in part, by how you limit interruptions. No one is coming to help you with this task; you handle and resolve the issue. You have the capability, fortunately, to take charge and give interruptions to brush off.