Dealing with Office Interruptions

You are enthusiastically settled into your New York City office space, sure that it is a productive environment, and are primed and ready to achieve so many things each single day. But then…

Interruptions do happen, whether you are a hard-pressed newbie or a senior executive, and some are urgent or important and simply can’t be avoided. However, here are a range of five actions you can take – some more light-hearted than others – to minimise such disruptions to your day…

Check your workspace layout

In a shared space, if your desk, for example, faces a communal photocopier or printer, water, coffee or refreshment stop – all of these are designed to have users glance around for an interruption to enjoy. You simply look up, and they’ve instantly made eye contact!

Interrupt the interrupter

You know the ones – they come over and tell you how bad their day is – in great detail. Get in first! After they have had to listen to your moans once or twice, they’ll decide to go interrupt some other poor soul – and that’s about the best outcome you can hope for!

Got a minute?

A fatal request, because it never is a minute. How often is someone interrupting you because they simply can’t be bothered to think something through, or complete a task for themselves? You’ll know the people who try this. Solution: apologise for being uninterruptible at that moment, and invite them to come back at a specific time later in the day. If they return, they probably do need your help; if not, they’ve likely made the effort and sorted it out for themselves.

Stand up to greet them – and stay standing

You spot an interrupter on final approach. If you stand to talk to them it’s likely they’ll spend much less time with you than if you invite them to sit down, become comfortable, and settle in.

Manage the damage

Interruptions are inevitable, face-to-face, by phone, or even online. Here’s one great way to limit the personal disruption. Before starting to deal with the interruption, take a moment to write down a few words describing exactly where you are in the task you’re working on. Interruption over, this reminder helps you get right back into what you were doing.

From arranging your office space, to managing your head space, interruptions need not be as disruptive as is often the case.


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