I get interrupted a lot at work. No I mean constantly. It is challenging some days to stay focused and get things done because each interruption invites a shift to a new task or project, and by the end of the day, my desk ends up literally stacked with all the things I started and didn’t finish. I find email drafts the next day that I thought I had sent (no wonder I didn’t get a response since I never finished hitting send!). I have little notes all over the place, and people often have to ask more than once to get something from me.
I don’t like working that way, so I’m figuring out a way to leave myself markers – kind of like a trail of breadcrumbs, to the work I need to be doing.
To counteract all the interruptions, I’m learning some ways to trigger a reminder that gets me back on track. One thing is to leave a blank pad of paper by my computer so that I can write things down. When someone comes in to say we need to order this, or can I print out that, or they need these figures, I write it down for later and continue with what I was doing.
I’m learning to say, “I’m in the middle of something now, but I will get that in a little while.” That way I can finish what I’m working on, or at least get to a stopping point, and then get other things done.
I’m also learning to finish a thought or an entry when the phone rings. Instead of picking up on the first ring, I get to a logical stopping point and then answer – and sometimes I let it go to voice mail (gasp). That action alone has helped tremendously in staying on track, and eliminating a lot of the mistakes I was making.
How do you stay focused in spite of interruptions?