The telephone is ringing. There are e-mails to be answered. And there is a project due by the end of the day. How do you stay on track? Career experts said there are several ways to deal with different types of interruptions.
Dave Lindbeck, owner of Valley-based InStep Coaching, said in some cases, turning the phone off or letting voicemail take a call may help.
“Keep your cell phone off, and do not take personal calls unless your employer allows them, and in that case, have them go to voicemail and return only those urgent calls at a time when you are taking a break in your particular task,” he said. “Otherwise, return the call on the drive home. It’s important to let friends and family know that you don’t want to be bothered with calls at work unless it’s an emergency.”
Sometimes the disruptions may come from someone in person, such as a co-
worker stopping by to chat.
“Consider saying this, ‘I want to give you my undivided attention, so let me finish this and then I'll stop by to see you,’” Lindbeck said. “This allows you to control the time you invest when you actually do connect because you'll be at their workspace and can walk away when you're done and not get trapped in your own office or cubicle.”
A French study on interruptions in an office handling customer care calls showed what a difference they make. The study concluded there was an increase in the processing time of current tasks and an increase in management being needed to handle situations, according to PubMed.gov, a Web site by the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.
Lindbeck said it’s just better to stay on track with what needs to be done.
“Studies have shown that multi-tasking is actually counterproductive. It's my recommendation to key in on one project at a time. You'll be more effective at getting it done in less time, and you'll do a better job on it because your mental and creative energy will be focused and not distracted by what the other tasks may be demanding. Also, the sense of accomplishment from completing one task will energize you for the next project.”