Tired of interruptions at work? On top of causing tasks to take longer, interruptions can often cause us to lose our trail of thought. This means having to waste time going back over work to remember exactly where we left off. Interruptions can also lead to mistakes being made – vital tasks can sometimes get forgotten because we end up getting side-tracked. All in all, it can have a very negative impact on productivity.
It’s not possible to eliminate all interruptions at work. However, there are many everyday disturbances and distractions that can often be reduced by taking preventative measures. Below are just a few ways to put an end to annoying workplace interruptions.
Choose the Right Environment to Work From
Some of us find that we work best from an office where we haven’t got the disturbances of home. This could be particularly the case if you’ve got young kids that aren’t in school yet or a noisy flatmate.
Alternatively, you may find that you’re able to concentrate better at home than in an office full of people. This could be particularly the case if employees keep interrupting you – while you should still spend some time in the office, you may find that certain tasks are better carried out at home.
Invest in a Strong WI-FI Connection
If your internet keeps cutting out, this could end up becoming a serious interruption. Consider upgrading to a stronger and more reliable wi-fi connection if this is the case. Old internet routers are more likely to suffer from frequent connection problems and may need to be replaced with newer versions. If you find that the internet is shaky in certain areas of your home or office, it may alternatively be a case of buying a new router with a larger range or a wi-fi extender.
Fix Faulty Equipment Before It Breaks Completely
If you notice that equipment is starting to develop faults, find time to get it fixed before it fails completely. For instance, if a computer is lagging or frequently crashing, don’t wait until the hard drive completely fails before getting it fixed. You may be able to schedule repairs out of work hours so that it is less of an interruption. This is better than waiting for equipment to completely fail – which could happen at any time, potentially resulting in a whole day being wasted.
In some cases it may be possible to invest in spare equipment, so that if one piece of equipment fails you can continue work using the spare. This could include having two POS displays in your store, two printers in your office or two forklift trucks in your warehouse. This may not always be economical, although in some cases you may find that you’re able to put both pieces of equipment to use simultaneously, allowing you to make up for the added costs.
Consider a Backup Power Supply
A power cut could prevent you from being able to do any work if you rely on machinery. Consider whether it’s worth also investing in a backup power supply. If the mains electricity cuts out, you can then keep on working from this backup power source (this could be a petrol generator or a solar generator).
Train Staff Thoroughly
It may take a while for new employees to learn the ropes. During this onboarding period, you can expect them to have a lot of questions. If they cannot report to anyone else with these questions, then you’ll be the one that has to answer them – which can become a source of irritation if they keep interrupting you.
Training employees thoroughly can reduce the amount of interruptions you may have from these new employees. They’ll likely still have some questions, but they might not be so clueless that they have to consult you every five minutes.
Put Information in Writing
Putting information in writing can help people to reference this information themselves instead of having to ask you to confirm it. This could prevent customers ringing you up or employees asking you to confirm information.
A few examples of information that you can put in writing to reduce interruptions include:
- A frequently asked questions (FAQs) page on your website for customers
- An employee handbook for new employees to reference
- Meeting recaps in the form of emails
Reconsider Your Open-Door Policy
An open door policy can make you seem warmer and more approachable, but it could also be encouraging frequent interruptions. Instead of letting employees and customers wander into your office, encourage them to make appointments where possible. If you still want to maintain some approachability, you could try keeping your door open for certain periods of the day.
Schedule Phone Calls Ahead When Possible
Got that one customer that won’t stop calling you for updates? With these customers, it can often be beneficial to encourage scheduled phone calls. This allows you to plan your work around these calls and could give them time to ask all of their questions.
Delegate/Outsource Others to Answer Unscheduled Phone Calls
For phone calls that cannot be scheduled such as new customer enquiries, the solution could be to either delegate or outsource this task to someone else.
Some companies hire a secretary to answer the phone. This could be necessary if the phone is constantly ringing. You may even be able to outsource other admin tasks to them.
Alternatively, you may be able to rely on an outsourced company made up of phone answering professionals. The phone answering professionals will be able to answer general calls and then update you on any important information when necessary. This could be cheaper than hiring a full-time secretary.
Consider Turning off Notifications During Certain Times
Social media notifications, texts and emails can also serve as an interruption. In most cases, these notifications aren’t urgent – if someone really needs to get hold of you, they’ll ring you. When you need to concentrate on a task for an hour, consider turning off these notifications. When it comes to non-business related notifications, it could be worth turning these off for the duration of the working day if you find yourself constantly distracted by them.