Do you find yourself on deadline every single day? It is tiring and stressful to know that the timeframe is not unreasonable, but interruptions at work make it impossible to concentrate and focus on getting the job done. Mario Andretti said: “Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal.” In fact, it is all about how you manage your time and the interruptions you face.
Daily external interruptions are a harsh reality of South African workplaces. Employees are challenged with load shedding, lost Wi-Fi signals and internet interruptions, transport delays, strikes etc. Most of these interruptions cannot be controlled by either the company or the employee. All that remains to do is work through it and take those challenges into consideration when setting or committing to a deadline.
However, there are interruptions that you can control with various time management strategies. It is not an easy thing to block out interruptions. It takes a special skill set and a few taught strategies, but here are some considerations to free up the time you need to achieve your objectives:
1. Have non-interruption sessions or days at the office. This might include you putting a sign on your door, switching your phone off or sending out an email to your team informing them that you are unreachable for the next hour or two to finish a project. You are in charge of your time and productivity. So take charge.
2. Make a conscious decision not to look at any communication until you have completed your task. Set up an automated email response, close your email, close your door, get someone to answer your phone for the time it takes to finish a specific task.
3. Don’t let Social Media distract and take up your time during office hours. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…will prompt you throughout the day with notifications on your mobile. Don’t give in. You can look at all the posts and notifications after your work is done. It is not a crisis if you see the post later or don’t immediately respond.
4. Bookmark your spot. You might be busy with something and then get called into a meeting. Chances are you will lose your place, or your mind will be preoccupied with the discussions of the meeting. You will forget where to start again and pick up where you left off. Write all your ideas down quickly so that you can refocus and promptly start again when you return.
5. Learn to refocus after your rhythm has been broken. Get back on track faster. Although this can be extremely frustrating, try not to force yourself to refocus straight after you’ve been interrupted. Rather stand up, take a walk or go make some coffee. Try to relax and get into a focused frame of mind. You will be amazed how quickly you get your mojo back.
A day without interruptions is impossible, but it's how you deal with and manage it that matters. To be proactive and have some smart strategies in place will make you more productive and help you get back on track faster and efficiently. The Mindspa Institute offers a course in Time Management that takes the South African workplace reality into account. For more information on this course visit www.themindspa.co.za or email [email protected] or phone 010 1100227.