Personal productivity: managing interruptions

pause written on a computer keyboard key

You’ve worked hard to become the ‘go to’ person for advice, guidance, opinion and decision-making in your organisation.

It’s a satisfying position to be in but it has a down side too. How many times have you been heads down working when you get the feeling that somebody wants your attention? A smiling face asks: “I couldn’t just borrow you for a couple of seconds, could I?” That’s it, you’ve been interrupted, you’re off task, and now you’re working on somebody else’s priorities and not your own.

Research by the University of California and the Humboldt University showed on average office workers were distracted or changed task every three minutes and 5 seconds and it took 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to where they left off. So how can you balance the needs of others and insure uninterrupted time to focus on your own objectives?

Here are a few tips

  1. Book time slots in your diary to step back and reflect and for completing your work items. Make it clear these diary entries are to be respected.
  2. Agree a signal which tells your colleagues you don’t want to be disturbed such as wearing your earphones, or a ‘do not disturb’ sign.
  3. Find a quiet place away from your desk such as a cafe, a satellite office, the library.
  4. Disconnect, switch off your social media and emails and put your phone on silent.

We will be discussing a range of practical steps you can take to reclaim control of your work time as part of the CMI Southern Region webinar ‘Time Management – Taking Back Control’.

> Booking information for the Time Management webinar on Wednesday 22 November 2017 at 6.30pm (CMI website)

When you register will have the opportunity to identify areas where you are looking for tips. Do get in touch with us to share your favourite techniques for managing your time more effectively.


Peter headshot with grey jacket, white shirt and light blue tieBlog by Peter Fisher, CMI Southern Board Member.

If you would like to submit a case study or add to the series on time management, contact the CMI Southern communications team.


CMI Resources

Follow the links below to access these resources for free to CMI members on Management Direct. Members will need to log-in using their CMI sign-in details.

> Murphy’s Ten Laws of Time Management

> Urgent versus Important

>  Abstract of ‘The cost of interrupted work: more speed and stress report’ by the University of California and Humboldt University (2015) [pdf document, general availability]