Whether you work out of an office downtown or work from home, one of the biggest challenges that you probably deal with on daily basis is how to work without interruption.
Distractions and interruptions can come in dozens of forms—meetings, emails, texts, client phone calls—but one of the biggest problems that many people face is how to deal with people who constantly waste time with endless visits and idle conversation. In order to win back your day, there are several strategies that you can use to bid time wasters goodbye.
You won’t accomplish much by tiptoeing around the fact that you need to be productive.
Let those who constantly want to visit your office to tell jokes or long stories that you have to focus on your current project. Offer to meet them for lunch or even after work to socialize instead.
Co-workers who love to lounge in your office can be a problem, especially when they can’t take the hint that you’re busy.
When they drop by, explain that you’re expecting a client’s call and that’s where your attention must be focused. Gently remind them that their own clients might need attention as well.
Friends and family won’t be as likely to interrupt with calls if you make it clear you cannot answer your phone while you’re working.
Limit texts, too: answering them when you’re with a client sends the message that you aren’t interested in talking to them. Let more persistent people leave a voice mail.
When you want to extract yourself from a conversation, turn your feet toward the door or shift your weight from foot to foot. This will tell the speaker that you are eager to leave.
A lack of eye contact or folded arms might also give people the message that you’re trying to disengage from interaction.
If your office has a door, keep it closed when you’re at your busiest. Open doors are often an invitation for people to drop by and chat.
If you don’t have a door, ask your coworkers to inquire if you’re busy before they step into your office or work space. You will find that most will be respectful of this.
While it’s great to be part of a team and encourage your coworkers, there will always be those who constantly seek out your advice for every step they take.
When these individuals start to take up too much of your time, encourage them to take steps on their own and distance yourself as much as you can.
Don’t be available for advice as often, and don’t feel guilty—they will either grow and become confident or continue to struggle, but you cannot be responsible for their failures.
To cut back on wasting time answering email that contains jokes, inner-office chatter, or other non-essential information, make it clear that you use your work email for that purpose only and anything else sent to that address will go unanswered.
Try and be as brief as possible in your work emails; get to the point quickly. By using a more formal tone in your work emails, you will discourage the conversation from breaking down into idle chatter.