Sometimes it seems that way, as if you only start the ‘real’ work when most colleagues have left. Interruptions can increase pressure, making a carefully planned project appear impossibly overambitious. Your time is nibbled away, minute by minute.
And when the worst interrupter is your Manager – this can test your diplomatic skills too.
Most of us find these interruptions particularly difficult. After all, that’s our job – to be helpful, co-operative and available when needed. You want to maintain a positive relationship, demonstrate a ‘can do’ attitude and keep on top of your workload.
But it’s not easy when your Manager interrupts frequently with a torrent of new tasks that weren’t on the radar yesterday.
While the interruptions are unlikely to stop completely (and you probably wouldn’t want them to), these suggestions will minimise them, without upsetting your Manager.
These five Tips, implemented consistently, are going to help you complete projects, reduce your stress and boost your reputation as a person who ‘delivers’.
Tip 1 Map Out Commitments Visually
Sometimes the simple solutions really are the best, and it’s particularly true when it comes to storing information. If the system isn’t effortless to use, with information readily available, we quickly abandon it. Believe me, I’ve tested hundreds of techniques for planning diaries, software, filing etc. in my search to bring you the best, and been shocked how many techniques become a job in themselves. They really don’t save time and effort at all!
It’s tempting to think of deadlines as negative, especially when imposed on you by others. Deadlines can make you feel powerless, frustrated, even stressed if you feel it’s out of your control to meet them.
But deadlines can be extremely powerful too when used to positively manage yourself and drive your productivity. That puts you back in control, motivated to finish and lift your performance higher. Deadlines can bring out the best in you as you engage all your creative energy to ensure your deadline is met.
You might have the ‘potential’ to do much more – but unless you have a deadline driving you forward, it’s easy for delays to slip in, or for perfectionism to slow you down, even to stop.
Ironically, it can be when you’re less busy that this is most likely to happen, as there is no urgency to begin in good time. Often a similar slow down occurs when you’re working on projects for your own benefit and there is no external pressure to meet. And of course, that‘s when you’re most likely to be caught out by an unexpected project demanding attention as the deadline approaches rapidly.
Open plan work environments seem to be the norm in most organisations. Some are even going further, introducing ‘hotdesking’ where even your workstation is allocated fresh each day.
An open plan environment is flexible, positively encourages conversation between colleagues, and for many of us this is an enjoyable part of our working lives. This environment is credited with benefits such as better communication, faster problem-solving and decision-making. You can immediately see who is present, and typically you’ll have a wider circle of contacts to ask for help when working in an open plan office.
But inevitably more conversation leads to interruptions to your concentration. Combined with distractions such as impromptu meetings, distribution of birthday cakes and background clatter of printers/photocopiers in use, the noise level can rise.
And it has to be said, working in an open plan office isn’t universally popular. The chatter, people walking past and increased interruptions sometimes causes loss of concentration, frustration and reduced productivity for some.