Interruptions are inevitable, but as a small business owner, they can be more than disruptive. Besides cutting into valuable time, interruptions can loose that train of thought and make it tougher to get back into that task. But what can small business owners do about interruptions? Here are five tips for cutting back interruptions and making the most of your time.
Be honest with self-imposed interruptions.
How many interruptions are you responsible for, and not someone else? Be honest with yourself and make a mental note of how often you check your phone, get lost on a web page or unnecessarily check your email. If you find yourself getting lost on Facebook when originally working on social media marketing, try scheduling only a certain amount of time for social media marketing, setting a timer, and getting off the web when that time is up.
Take note of the typical daily interruptions.
What are the usual interruptions during your work day? By answering that question, you may be able to prevent some of them. If employees are always asking the same kinds of questions, maybe a mini training session can help curb repeating the answer over and over again in the future. Other interruptions, rather than being curbed, could be scheduled — a brief meeting with staff, for example, won’t curb the interruptions but will get them all out of the way at the same time.
If interruptions are disruptive, schedule an interruption-free time.
If you have some tasks that are just impossible to tackle with constant interruptions, set up a “do not disturb” time and make sure your employees know when that is. Designate another staff member to manage questions and phone calls, and make sure staff knows not to interrupt unless it’s a true emergency. Make sure to turn off your own distractions too and silence your smartphone during this time.
Don’t be afraid to schedule a different time to handle the interruption.
Some interruptions are issues that need to be dealt with immediately, but if that’s not the case, don’t be afraid to schedule a time to get a handle on whatever that interruption is. Acknowledge the employee, then let them know you’ll have more time to work on the issue if you chat later, set a time, and get back to work.
Schedule intentional breaks.
Research suggests that many people work better with scheduled breaks. While managing interruptions is important, stepping outside for five minutes of fresh air may boost your productivity and speed when you sit back down at your desk. When looking at interruptions, it’s important to recognise which ones are really disruptive, and which ones actually have you eager to work when you return.
Interruptions can break up the flow of the day and make a big impact on time management as a business owner. While you can’t prevent all interruptions, you can put some tips and tricks in place to help manage those interruptions more effectively.