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Do Not Disturb – Dealing With Disruptions More Effectively


High performing employees at all levels know the value of their own time. Everyday interruptions that remove a person’s focus from their most important, High Payoff Activities (HPA’s), are costly to both personal and team productivity.

One of the biggest issues with interruptions is that they break your focus, which means you spend time realigning your thought process to where it was before you were interrupted. Research shows that this can take up to 11 minutes. Furthermore, since the number of hours each of us has in our workday is limited, unplanned interruptions have the potential to add additional pressure to meet key deadlines and targets.

The following basic strategies, that we call “The Five Ds of Disruptions” will assist you to reduce the time and productivity cost of unplanned interruptions.

The Five Ds of Disruptions:

Decide: If a tasks requires 100% of your attention, schedule it when you are least likely to be disturbed.

Defer: Learn to say ‘No’ in an assertive way. If an interruption is not critical, agree to meet and discuss the issue at a time that suits you. Saying something like, “I am happy to meet and discuss this at 3.00pm today. Are you available then?” will not offend anyone, and you defer the interruption to a time that better suits you.

Discourage: Focus on controlling others’ accessibility to you. Close your door if this is possible. If not, communicate realistic boundaries and expectations to those around you by letting them know that you have an HPA to work on, and what time of day you will be available.

Deal with it: There are times when you will have no choice but to respond to the interruption. In these instances, focus conversations of action and results, then return your attention to your HPAs.

Delegate: If you are losing a lot of your productive time through interruptions that relate to tasks that someone else could do, start the process of delegating these.

LMA has  a wide variety of course to help you deal with disruptions and their management.  Click here to find more information on our courses and how they can help.