We’ve all heard the age old sentiment- time is money and simply put, interruptions waste valuable time. A recent UC Irvine study found that, after being interrupted whether by a phone call, text, or someone walking into your office, it takes an average of more than 23 minutes to refocus on your initial task. This adds up to lots of wasted time, especially if your running your small business from home or are repeatedly interrupted throughout the day. This makes it important to not let interruptions get in the way when it is time to focus on a project. Here are four tips you can use to prevent interruptions before they interfere with your work efficiency:
Silence the phone. Let your phone go to voicemail or have someone else get it. Voicemail messages can even be changed to inform the caller that you’ll not be checking messages for xx minutes/hours and if needed your assistant or colleague can be contacted instead. Minimize the notifications on your computer and set your phone to “Do Not Disturb.” You will still be able to receive calls so you don’t have to worry about missing something truly important while still maintaining your work efficiency.
Claim your workspace. If you have an office, close the door. Place a brief note explaining that you are there but unavailable (this can be taped either to door or exterior cubicle wall. Something such as: “I would like to give you my undivided attention shortly however from xxxx AM/PM to xxxx AM/PM I am working on an assignment that is best to complete without interruptions.”) Additionally, ensure that your office provides you a distraction free zone by efficiently organizing and minimizing workspace clutter.
Divide and conquer. Use the Pomodoro technique. This allows you to set a timer for a fixed block of time (i.e. 25 minutes) and to focus intensely on a single, specific task. Once that timer ends, you take a 5 minute break, reset, and focus on a separate task for the next “Pomodoro.” The trick is that by focusing on one thing at a time, your brain can relax and give its full power to the task at hand.
Everyone works differently, but we all work better with less distractions. Be sure to test out one or two of these tips on your next project and notice what works best for you and your individual working style. Then, begin to take account of what distracts you throughout the day to tailor personal solutions. The greater you understand your distractions, the more you can resist them and increase your work efficiency.
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted. The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.