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7 Workplace Interruptions That Are Killing Your Productivity

Workplace interruptions can be frustrating. Worse still, they can kill your productivity.

The majority of us are most efficient when working on one task at a time. Interruptions result in us having to abandon tasks and then go back to them later. They can take us out of the zone – which can result in us having to backtrack when we return to tasks. We may also feel the need to race to finish tasks in order to stay on schedule, which can result in work being rushed. The likeliness of making mistakes is also increased because of this.

Fortunately, many interruptions can be eliminated. How to do this depends very much on the type of interruption. Below are just 7 of the most common workplace interruptions to be wary of.

Unscheduled phone calls

Having to answer the phone can be one of the biggest interruptions in the workplace. While some calls can be scheduled ahead, others cannot be planned for. There are a number of ways in which you can reduce these interruptions.

The first is to delegate the task of answering the phone to someone else. You could hire an in-house receptionist to answer phone calls for you or you could look into outsourcing a phone answering company. While there may still be times when you need to be called regarding urgent matters, delegating the task of answering the phone can filter out most of the general enquiries, sales calls and other calls that are largely a waste of time.

The second way to reduce unscheduled phone calls is to encourage other forms of communication via your website. Encouraging potential customers to complete forms or send emails can allow you to call back at a time that suits you. You may also be able to use your website to reduce the number of general enquiries by providing a page of FAQs (frequently answered questions). This still doesn’t prevent urgent calls, but it could help to filter out less important calls.

Impromptu meetings

Impromptu meetings can be hugely inconvenient. These could include meetings with clients, suppliers or employees.

An open-door policy can often be to blame for encouraging these types of meetings. While allowing people to come in and talk to you at any time can make you seem more open and approachable, it can result in people constantly interrupting you. You may want to consider having certain ‘do not disturb’ hours in order to focus on pressing tasks, as well as possibly scheduling time when people are allowed to walk-in. If you have the freedom to do so, choosing to work out of the office could also be a way around this.

‘Urgent’ emails

Abandoning tasks to respond to urgent emails can also serve as an interruption. Some emails may even require other action such as reading information or relaying information to others.

Often such emails aren’t as ‘urgent’ as we think – in most cases, if news is urgent, a person will ring. Scheduling times throughout the day to reply to emails can allow you to focus your attention purely on this task. In the meantime, consider setting an out-of-office reply or something similar to show that you won’t be replying during these periods. If people do need to get hold of you quickly, they’ll simply ring you.

Chatty colleagues

As fun as it can be to work in an environment with other people, certain colleagues can be a major distraction. It’s fine for colleagues to interrupt with urgent information regarding work, but you may not want them interrupting your work with personal stories and anecdotes.

During periods when you need to focus on your work, don’t be afraid to kindly tell colleagues that you don’t want to be disturbed. You may even be able to work out of the office when handling tasks that require a lot of concentration.

IT issues

Various IT issues can also serve as an interruption. This could include computers crashing or software encountering bugs.

IT issues can sometimes be avoidable by keeping computers well maintained. Regularly updating software may be able to prevent bugs, while maintaining a dust-free environment could stop computer overheating. Good security software can, of course, help to deflect viruses that could also slow your computer down and interrupt you.

It could be worth looking into business IT consulting services to help you solve IT issues quickly. Such services can be contacted at any time so that you’ve always got someone to talk to. These consultants may even be able to help fix the problem remotely.

Wi-fi signal loss

Much of today’s work is handled online. As a result, loss of wi-fi connection can serve as a major interruption when trying to complete day-to-day work tasks.

Wi-fi connection can be affected by many factors. You could be using an old router or there could be other interfering connections. You can usually reduce connection problems by investing in good quality wi-fi – the best networks are fast, strong and have a long-range. Having a backup wi-fi source could also be a solution – if your primary wi-fi source fails, you can always rely on the backup source.

Power cuts

Power cuts can also be big interruptions. Without electricity, most businesses can do very little.

While power cuts are often out of our control, there are ways in which you can still keep your electricity running in the event of a power cut. Uninterruptible power supplies allow you to stay powered up for a few minutes after, which may be all you need before the power returns. Meanwhile, for a long-term supply of back-up power, you could consider buying a backup generator. These can run off of fuel or solar power and could keep your business running in the event of a power cut so that vital tasks aren’t interrupted.

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